Myra Gonzalez, associate director of honors and scholarship programs at Texas A&M University, encourages students to treat college as if it were their full-time job. Gonzalez explains, “Plan to study outside of class at least three hours per course. Seek assistance. You have access to at least triple the amount of advisors and counselors compared to high school. Actively seek guidance from your academic advisors, scholarships/financial aid advisors, your professors, your upper classmen, and former students.”
Start with a List of Goals
A good first step is to start by writing down your college and post-graduation goals. This will help you maintain focus as you decide what academic and extracurricular activities to participate in. Re-evaluate your goals each semester as you plan your next semester of coursework and activities. Are you on track? Have you changed your mind about your long-term goals? Adjust your plan as necessary, and make sure you commit to your goals.
Ask for Help
As an entering freshman, you will be assigned to an advisor within your college major. This person should be your first stop to discuss your goals but should not be the only person you talk to.
Make the most of the advice and expertise of those around you. Several colleges offer student mentoring programs where you are paired with professors, upper classmen, or alumni who have experience in your field of interest. Actively seek out these opportunities and take advantage!
Campuses are filled with professors who are experts in their fields. Don’t be afraid to ask them about their industry expertise or their daily lives as scientists, researchers, or college professors. Actually, you’ll find that professors love talking about what they do.
The Job Hunt Starts Early
Don’t wait until your senior year to get to know your career center. Meet with your university career center early on and discuss how internships, co-ops, and other programs can fit into your college plan and enhance your college experience. Career centers are also a great place to research possible careers and how each major fits into those.
As Gonzalez says, “Students are about to embark on a new journey that is both challenging and rewarding.” Make sure you make the most of your journey by participating actively in it.