College World: The Grad Student Column

So you are new or “old” to school, and you may be wondering what you are doing at a university or what you are doing with your life. This is normal and is to be expected. Being a college student can be a strange existence. You forget the real world for a while. You forget that children and seniors exist. You forget that there are people working forty hour weeks. But you cannot forget that this is a great experience, and it’s important to make the most of it.

The modern world offers many possibilities and choices, but sometimes it’s hard to not become overwhelmed by the current state of things. What will happen after graduation, after the degree? As a seasoned college student, I want to keep this in mind and offer some advice based off my own experiences and observations.

First of all, study something that you love. Doing so makes homework and other class assignments much easier to accomplish. Choose a major or a subject that also challenges your intelligence and exposes you to new ideas. Then, try to go to your classes and participate whenever you can. Get to know your professors, they will make great references for grad school later on, and they are typically pretty cool people.

In fact, they would probably love to talk to you. Do consider the practicality of your major or think of a way to apply it in the real world. A few minutes of Googling should be enough to get you started. Don’t get discouraged if your passion in life is not engineering, accounting, or nursing, and seems to be a bad career choice. You have the potential to individualize and specialize your studies and research. Work hard and study hard, and someone, somewhere, will see that and will appreciate it, maybe even enough to pay you.

Second, be active in student life. If you are having a hard time meeting people or finding people with similar interests, join a club that appeals to you. If you are a writer, write and publish. If you are a musician, play at open mic. The university offers many internships and on-campus opportunities for you. I am not saying that college life should be all work and no play (that would make Jack quite a dull boy), but work hard and play hard. Well, all in moderation. Try to spend your time “productively” through your schoolwork and your personal hobbies. And don’t forget to sleep sometime…

Third, get acquainted with the local community. Go to the restaurants, the sights, the stores etc. Meet local community figures, pastors, store owners, city council members. You will be glad you did. And whenever you can, try to travel abroad. The benefits to traveling overseas (or even nationally) are endless. You could pick up a language, a perspective, or most importantly, a lifelong connection.  Remember that not everybody’s school stresses international programs. You have unique opportunities here.

As a young adult, you have the energy and the willpower to do whatever you want. Study Theatre, study English, study Theology. Stay strong, keep your mind active, do not give up.

Do some soul searching and figure out what you are passionate about. Find the thing that makes you happy, what really gets under your skin or even makes you mad. Then, as you grow older, you will have many good stories to tell. Take advantage of this time and carpe diem.

Rachel Bernick, Contributing Writer



Categories: Opinion

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