College is a huge test of your independence. No, don’t roll your eyes. Chances are you’ve spent most of your life getting your time controlled by other people, right? Your parents dictate your social privileges, your teachers command your attention, your school regulates where you’re supposed to be and for how long. And that’s leaving out things like jobs and extracurricular activities. But the skills you’ve developed over the course of all that are pushed to their limits in college. You’re responsible for your own time and activities and where all of that goes in the long run. And you’re allowed enough freedom to really screw up if you get all that wrong.
Does that sound scary? That’s because it is scary. But don’t worry. If you cultivate the right skills early on, navigating college becomes a lot easier.
Organizing Your Time
Even if your day-to-day life is scheduled by other people, it’s still on you to divide your available time up according to homework, practice time, hobbies, etc., which is an invaluable ability in college. If you’re accustomed to organizing your activities and getting stuff done in your own time, that’s going to be a bonus for when you don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re on top of everything. Just remember to always make time for laundry.
When you’re swamped with commitments, even timing your day down to the second doesn’t help. So learning to prioritize is a handy skill in college, and indeed in day-to-day life. In school you probably learned to do this with homework – putting aside more time for subjects you struggled in and less for the ones you found easier. And sometimes you probably had to forego sleeping in or going out. When you’re in college it’s impossible to do everything you want to do, unless you work out what you want to do most. There’s only so much sleep you can do without!
Setting Long-Term Goals
When you were in school, getting into college seemed like the ultimate goal. Now all that planning’s paid off, it’s easy for post-graduation plans to seem a long way away. But you’re not going to be a student forever. Ask yourself what you really want to get out of your time at college. What do you want to achieve? How will you do it? You don’t have to decide on a career right away, but you should at least narrow down your options each year as you learn more about what you may be interested in doing.
The fact that you’re in college means that you already possess some ability to be proactive. But that doesn’t stop now you’re in – you’re probably being exposed to more opportunities and challenges you can take advantage of, and it’s more important than ever that you do so. Yes, having a prestigious university on your résumé opens doors, but they’re not going to stay open if you have no internships or experience supplementing your degree. Besides, college is the best time to try new things and work out what you enjoy!
Learning Social Skills
School requires a certain level of sociability. But dorm life is a whole new level of that. You’ll have a roommate and you’ll be surrounded by students wherever you go. And it’s vital that you maintain good relationships with people, not just for your social life but also for when you need help – whether that’s for studying or just for tips on where to get the best food on campus.
Got any more useful habits that pay off in college? Share them in the comments.
About Author: Louise Blake enjoys dispensing advice to help students navigate college life. She blogs about class certificates for School Stickers.
Image credit: CollegeDegrees360