List of Things You Should be Doing in Undergrad

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Rank: Baboon | banana points 145

Hello everyone,

Just thought I would compile a comprehensive list of things that should be done while you are an undergraduate student. Just remember, while some of these things may seem intuitive to you, it may not be that way for others. Some of these are self explanatory and will have a smaller description than others, but that should not underscore their importance.

As a disclaimer, I AM still in undergrad myself. However, that shouldn't discredit me by any means. I believe that I can offer advice from what I have gleaned from my mentors and readings, and the advice I have learned (even if I haven't put it into practice yet), and pass it on to others. Maybe this is just me organizing my thoughts in writing, while others may or may not benefit from this as well. Nevertheless, here is the list.

GET A MENTOR

This should be of high priority. Find someone much older and wiser than you. Get more than one possibly. Whether it is an upper class student, a professor, an advisor, or someone you met through a networking event, get a mentor. This person should be able to provide you with timeless advice and guidance. They should be someone whom you could confide in, and someone who will cause you to step out of your comfort zone. They should teach you life lessons and help you set and achieve your goals. If you're reading this and one specific person doesn't come to mind as a mentor of yours, please go out and find one. These people are life changers.

GET INVOLVED AND BECOME A STUDENT LEADER

Get involved in SOMETHING. Whether it is intramural sports, the debate team, a philanthropy or the school's investment fund, become an essential part of something. But always remember: it isn't what the club can do for you, it is about what you can do for the club. This is where you can make something of your college career. You don't want to be one of those people who just go to class, study and sleep all day. What fun is that? Joining a club presents you with the opportunity to meet new people and to learn essential leadership skills. Not only should you join a club, you should try to take up leadership roles in this club. But again, this can only happen if you have something tangible to offer. Don't just join to stamp it on your resume. If that is the case, you're in it for the wrong reasons. However, it IS of the utmost importance to become a leader in your club(s). It will provide you the opportunity to learn fundamental leadership skills and people management. You need to learn how to deal with people with different personality types effectively and efficiently. However, you don't want to get in over your head. Always remember that you're a student first, and you're here to get a degree. Don't let your grades suffer because you're involved in every club on campus, but don't let grades strop you from joining clubs either.

TIME MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATION

This is an important life skill that will follow us all anywhere we go. College is the prime opportunity to learn and develop this skill. Between classes, clubs, studying, meetings, the gym, work and so on, you should really be utilizing all of your time effectively. I'm not saying don't go to the occasional party, but is downing a few shots and a god time really worth your time?
Protip: USE A PLANNER. Seriously, this is the one thing that has changed my life. I don't care how mentally organized you may THINK you are, it is way better to put things down in writing. Also (and this is not me attempting to be funny), name your planner. You will never forget your planner if you name it. It will become attached to your hip. I put everything in my planner. I live by what I have in there. It allows me to see what I have to do, and what is of priority/urgency. Also, I like to write in my planner in pencil. We all know how things can change in an instant.

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO DO

Don't go in all wishy-washy on what you want to do with your life. The sooner you figure it out, the better off you will be. You don't want to be the kid who switches majors four times because you wanted to "experiment and explore the possibilities." You will end up in more debt and you'll be in college forever. The quicker you know what you want to do, the better you'll be able to tailor your course selection to suit your hopeful career.

READ THE NEWS. EVERYDAY!

Doesn't matter whether you watch Fox or MSNBC, whether you read the Journal or the Times etc. Obviously the more you read, the better. Just know what is going on. You'll come off as much more informed to those who are older than you if you can hold a conversation about current events. It projects intelligence and care. We all have smart phones, so download a few news apps and make sure they are sending you push notifications on things that are happening. You don't want to be that person who's always left in the dark and the last to find everything out. Also, I recommend you read news from more than one source, and that you read both conservative and liberal news reports. This will allow you to form your own opinions and think critically, which is a good segue into...

BECOME AN INDEPENDENT THINKER

Don't be the one who just agrees with and listens to what everybody else has to say. Apply what you know and what you're learning in your every day conversations. Use knowledge to your power. Tie in things you have learned across your curriculum to form cohesive arguments. Don't come off as overly opinionated, but do come off as intelligent and able to create your own thoughts.

BE MINDFUL OF WHAT YOU POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA

This shouldn't even need to be said, but it sadly does. Pretty self explanatory. Don't be posting pictures of you from last sunday at that frat party doing naked keg stands. Employers will see that and guess what? They won't be hiring you. Social media is becoming the decay of my generation, but I'll leave that argument for another post. That doesn't mean you shouldn't use it to your own advantage. Just be mindful of what you're putting out there for everyone to see.

CREATE A LINKEDIN

Self explanatory. Employers use this and (most) professionals use this, so you should be using this. This leads into...

BUILD A NETWORK

College is the number one time to make friends. You have no idea where the people you know in college will be in ten years and how much of an asset they may turn out to be. Also, build a relationship with your professors. They can become an integral part of your network and may be able to go out on a limb for you to help you get that precious first internship. You should also be reaching out to people who are in the industry or a related industry in which you hope to work. Whether this is by OCR, networking events, or the frightening cold call/email, you need to be actively making and maintaining relationships with professionals. They will prove invaluable. For more on this, there are plenty of other threads which have covered this topic extensively.

GET internships

Not just one! One probably won't be enough to land you that job you want upon graduation. But actively seek out internship opportunities in the field or a related field of the one in which you hope to work. This is probably the most important part of college. Also, be the best intern you can be. First in, last out. Go the extra step. There's always something more that you can be doing. But don't be a kiss ass. This is also very self explanatory.

GET GOOD GRADES

Just for completeness.

STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

You know that Kwanza event coming up on campus that you have little interest in going to? Be there for every minute of it. You'll be amazed at how much you can learn. You need to step out of your comfort zone for a complete college experience. In my humble opinion, that is what college is all about. Experience and try new things. Don't be shy. That shyness from high school will just hurt you in the end. This is another somewhat self explanatory one, but a good transition to...

STUDY ABROAD

Get a global perspective! Learn a new culture! What gets better than that? You may not have the opportunity to do so again outside of college, so you really do need to take advantage of your school's study abroad programs. It's all about global perspective now; that's what employers want (and why are you in college again?). Just pick a program that is the best fit for you and your interests.

GO GREEK

Join a SOCIAL fraternity/sorority. The benefits are so many and so profound, I cannot even begin to list them. I would not be where I am today were it not for my decision to go Greek. The relationships and connections you make will truly last a lifetime. Also, there are probably people employed in the industry you want to work in that are a member of your fraternity/sorority. Use them to your advantage.

GIVE BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY

Whether you're just doing community service or in an organized philanthropy, give a little bit back. Start your own philanthropy. Not only will it make you feel good, other people who may be less fortunate will benefit as well. Raise money for victims of domestic abuse, volunteer at a soup kitchen, fly over to the Philippines and help rebuild, raise money for breast cancer; whatever. It's all about volunteerism now.

LEARN HOW TO DRESS

That Hollister hoodie needs to make its way out of your closet and over to the Salvation Army. Start reading GQ (sorry ladies, but I'm not as up on women's fashion). Get a few different suits and dress shoes (oxfords, never loafers). A tailored suit is better than an expensive one that doesn't fit. Learn how to properly tie a tie, and how to tie a bunch of different knots. Learn when to use which knot and with which collared shirt.

LEARN HOW TO COOK

Life skill. Self explanatory.

INVEST IN YOUR HEALTH

Go to the gym. I'm not saying you have to become a bodybuilding competitor or a powerlifter, but stay healthy. This is the best time to learn proper nutrition and fitness habits. It will pay off in dividends later in life.

HAVE FUN!

This is an edit in. I should have included this in the first place but it must have escaped my mind, and I came off as a boring one tracked individual. That's neither here nor there. You should be enjoying your time in college, and you should be doing so in a matter that is appropriate for you. Everyone has a different idea of what fun is, and be sure to keep that in mind. If fun for you is going out, getting plastered and trying to find just about any girl who is willing to sit on it for the night, then great! If fun for you is spending time alone reading books and getting lost in a world of imagination, awesome! Just make sure you're making the most out of your last few years of minimal responsibility. Make genuine friends with whom you can share these good times. College should be the best years of your life.

And last but not least...

READ WSO

Sorry, I couldn't resist hahaha.

So there it is, a comprehensive list of things you should be doing as an undergraduate. I hope others find this beneficial and meaningful. If there's anything I'm missing or anything that should be added, feel free to post it below. I'm sure I left out multiple things. I'll gladly edit as other things cross my mind. Best of luck!

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Comments (56)

Nov 19, 2013

Nice post. +1 SB. As someone also still in UG, I agree with most of the above, and especially agree with the learning to manage time in college point- the transition between college and FT work (especially something like banking) will logically be much easier for people who effectively managed time/were organized in college. I think that transitioning from a college schedule to something like FT banking with bad time management habits would quickly become overwhelming, unless you learned to manage time well really fast.

A few things I'd add to the list:

1) Set goals. This can be (and usually is) related to points listed above (eg set a goal to get a mentor, set a goal to get an IB SA gig). Goals give somebody direction and make it easier to focus on getting what you want. If you find it hard to see the benefits of a goal/you're finding it difficult to commit to, chances are you don't really want it/the goal is the wrong one for you.

2) Make some time for yourself. I don't mean time to hang out with friends, or time to go on dates with the girlfriend etc, but time for yourself only. Having some time to unwind, alone, in a way you enjoy (reading, watching a movie, any hobby) is extremely relaxing and rewarding. It also allows for some reflection and self-evaluation, which is positive and carries great benefit.

3) Wake up early (on weekdays, at least). Instead of sleeping late and adjusting my wake-up time to match my class schedule like I used to, I recently started sleeping whenever I am tired/finished with my work and waking up at a set time each weekday (currently 7 a.m., and I'm looking to make it earlier soon). I've also moved my workouts from between classes/in the evening to first thing in the morning. It's done wonders for me. Instead of finishing my work and then wasting time for a few hours, I'm in bed earlier and up much earlier- I feel bad wasting time in the morning/at the start of the day, so end up doing something productive instead. This simple change has added hours of productivity to my weekdays, and I actually feel much better/more energetic when I wake up early and work out first thing in the morning. I regret not doing this years and years ago, and can see myself doing this for the rest of my life. Weekends I will sleep in if I want to, but I can definitely see myself making an effort to wake up early on weekends too. To put it in perspective, I could probably play 9 holes of golf every single weekday morning (depending on what time my classes start) without losing time that I currently spend on schoolwork etc, just by having transferred my free hours to the early morning instead of late at night, and using them productively instead of messing around and getting nothing productive (not necessarily school/work related) done.

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Nov 19, 2013

Totally agree with you @notthehospitalER

I'm about a year out of undergrad but had a similar progression where I became very productive with my time and felt much better when I was awake early.

I read a recent article, and many similar to it in the past, that not only advocate but provide proof that some of the most successful people in the word (article sites presidents, CEOs, and Athletes) wake up very early and exercise extremely hard.

In order to achieve uncommon success and crush goals, you must make the most out of each day and I think that's what many people, including myself, realize. (Albeit somewhat later than I would have liked haha)

P.S. - I'm a huge fan of Eric Thomas aka ET the Hip-Hop preacher when it comes to reading about success and motivation and I could have used his speeches/writing in undergrad.

Nov 19, 2013

Nice to see a kindred spirit haha, I used to hit snooze way too often (until it went from feeling great to feeling like I was wasting my time) and finally decided that enough was enough. I'll be heading into an IB SA next month (S.hemisphere) and am confident this habit will serve me well...I now know I'll be able to exercise etc before work, where living with my previous habits would have made that impossible. I've always enjoyed exercising, but I absolutely love doing it first thing in the morning (right after I wake up)- I feel great for the whole day. If I'm ever tired becuse of waking up in early, since I'm still in school I can justify a nap in the middle of the day, which feels so much better than sleeping in, in my opinion. I like it so much that waking up early is a habit I want to keep for the rest of my life, and I, like you, wish I stumbled across it much, much earlier than I did.

Didn't know ET wrote much (I'll have to check it out) but this video is one of my favourites:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsSC2vx7zFQ

Best Response
Nov 19, 2013

1. Get yoked
2. Get drunk
3. Slam hotties
4. Don't go greek
5. "Thirsty Thursdays"

If you are concerned with half the shit above in the prior lists, you are not having enough fun in your last years of freedom. There's always B-School though.

    • 10
Nov 19, 2013

Glad someone said it.

If I walked around Uni wearing my tailored suit and my oxfords teaching people different tie knots, well I might as well give up there and then.

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Nov 19, 2013

Or you can get a hot girlfriend, and then you'll end up having the kind of fun you mention/allude to while still being able to focus on the good points in the list above, because you won't need to go out every single weekend to try and get some etc.

    • 1
Nov 19, 2013
notthehospitalER:

Or you can get a hot girlfriend, and then you'll end up having the kind of fun you mention/allude to while still being able to focus on the good points in the list above, because you won't need to go out every single weekend to try and get some etc.

Which is exactly what I've done fortunately hahaha

Nov 19, 2013

but two fours is a solid eight

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Nov 19, 2013
yeahright:

your last years of freedom. .

a) you sure about that?
b) define freedom

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Nov 19, 2013

I should have said your last years of minimum responsibility.

Nov 19, 2013
yeahright:

1. Get yoked

2. Get drunk

3. Slam hotties

4. Don't go greek

5. "Thirsty Thursdays"

If you are concerned with half the shit above in the prior lists, you are not having enough fun in your last years of freedom. There's always B-School though.

This.

OP sounds like an incredibly boring person (no offense). I couldn't even imagine going to class or walking around campus in a suit during college. Life is not just an interview. You'll never be 18-21 again, live it up before you become a corporate drone.

Nov 19, 2013

I think people are misunderstanding what I'm trying to get at and taking what I'm saying a little too literally. Again, list of things you SHOULD be doing. Doesn't mean I follow religiously all of these to a t, but I do my best to make sure that I will have a successful future. Also, I'm at a non-target which means I have to be a little more focused and work harder to achieve my goal (IB). I don't have the prestige of an Ivy League school, so I really need to focus on these and work hard. So for me, it is prudent to try to consciously adhere to the majority of this list and to focus. I had enough fun in high school to the point where it got out of hand, and now I'm on a better path and don't plan on looking back or having any setbacks (if you get what I'm essentially trying to hint at here). I can live without the whole party scene personally, and for many personal reasons, I don't drink anymore.

Also, I'd like to say I'm not THAT boring. I'm currently training for an NPC bodybuilding competition in the spring, perform in a band and am heavily involved (leadership roles) in three clubs.

I'm not trying to start a pissing contest here. Just thought I'd offer up some useful advice to those who may need to hear it from a third party.

Nov 20, 2013
yeahright:

1. Get yoked

2. Get drunk

3. Slam hotties

4. Don't go greek

5. "Thirsty Thursdays"

If you are concerned with half the shit above in the prior lists, you are not having enough fun in your last years of freedom. There's always B-School though.

word up

Nov 19, 2013

Two kinds of people. I'm not by any means saying don't have fun. But I am saying to prioritize. I guess I live my life a little differently than you, but you shouldn't take away from the importance of what it is that I am trying to say. For me, fun is not my priority. Creating a successful future is my priority. I can have fun later on in life when I'm well off. But for now, I need to focus on what matters and leave behind the distractions. That is how I work best. You may be different, and both perspectives are respected.

Nov 19, 2013

I liked this for sure...I could definitely turn this into a "What I (you) Should Have Done, And Should NOT Have Done In Undergrad"...

Nov 19, 2013

Haha me too.

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Nov 19, 2013

1) Bang smokeshows.
2) Travel to different schools/cities
3) Wine Wednesday, Thirtsty Thursdays, Friday + Saturday with a little Sunday fun day should be a weekly occurrence
4) Figure out required hours of studying/working to accomplish a 3.8 GPA then proceed to float by while making good grades
5) Network with anyone and everyone that will take your call
6) Find relevant internships early on in college career to use prior experience to continue to get internships throughout college
7) Proceed to add Monday Night Football and Pint Night Tuesdays to schedule when in comfort zone
8) Cram 1-2 weeks for interviews

Nov 19, 2013

Great post. To expand on the "mentor" part I would really try to build connections with a number of professors if possible. You never know when you'll need a rec plus why not try to tap into their wealth of knowledge? I feel like it's something people tend to overlook, but I've really appreciated all the insights my profs have given me in one on one discussions.

Nov 19, 2013
NuclearPenguins:

Great post. To expand on the "mentor" part I would really try to build connections with a number of professors if possible. You never know when you'll need a rec plus why not try to tap into their wealth of knowledge? I feel like it's something people tend to overlook, but I've really appreciated all the insights my profs have given me.

Absolutely agree, and I did touch on this in the build a network part. They're teaching for a reason; they are there to help you and should be utilized as a resource. You're essentially paying their salary, you might as well make the most of your money!

Nov 19, 2013

I scored 5/19. Had a shit load of fun though.

Nov 19, 2013

Just have fun and enjoy it while it lasts.

Nov 19, 2013

Honestly, I think yeahright and OP are both correct, but basically represent the two extremes of the spectrum. That's why I found college to be tricky - you want to have tons of fun, and you want to be super productive. It's not so easy to balance. And it doesn't end at college. If all you're doing is building networks or sloshing around then you're probably making suboptimal use of your time...the best way is probably somewhere in the middle. The folks I admired the most in college were the ones who literally partied/fooled around 90% of the time and still managed to crush like 3.7 GPAs in STEM...I don't know how they managed to do that.

Nov 23, 2013
Going Concern:

Honestly, I think yeahright and OP are both correct, but basically represent the two extremes of the spectrum. That's why I found college to be tricky - you want to have tons of fun, and you want to be super productive. It's not so easy to balance. And it doesn't end at college. If all you're doing is building networks or sloshing around then you're probably making suboptimal use of your time...the best way is probably somewhere in the middle. The folks I admired the most in college were the ones who literally partied/fooled around 90% of the time and still managed to crush like 3.7 GPAs in STEM...I don't know how they managed to do that.

Agreed 100%. I had a few friends like that. Guys could literally drink 7 days a week, never slept, were charismatic and a blast to hang out with, did more or less whatever the fuck they wanted. Still killed it in all their classes, in addition to being almost the poster-children for all their respective programs. I think it really is possible if you decide to just grind it out in the library when you need to. Unfortunately finding that balance is difficult.

"When you stop striving for perfection, you might as well be dead."

Nov 20, 2013

Malt Liquor Mondays

Nov 20, 2013

I think drink in excess and often should be on this list.

Nov 20, 2013

you forgot the most important thing: Do NOT major in anything other than finance, economics, or accounting UNLESS and ONLY UNLESS you go to the Ivy League (or Stanford, Lil' 3, Duke, or JHU). Without that, nothing you listed means jack.

    • 1
Nov 20, 2013
RodneyBro20:

you forgot the most important thing: Do NOT major in anything other than finance, economics, or accounting UNLESS and ONLY UNLESS you go to the Ivy League (or Stanford, Lil' 3, Duke, or JHU). Without that, nothing you listed means jack.

You're joking, right?

Nov 20, 2013
RodneyBro20:

you forgot the most important thing: Do NOT major in anything other than finance, economics, or accounting UNLESS and ONLY UNLESS you go to the Ivy League (or Stanford, Lil' 3, Duke, or JHU). Without that, nothing you listed means jack.

What is the "Lil' 3?" Why is John Hopkins specifically mentioned (out of all possible non-Ivy top undergrads)?

I assume you're joking about the major thing. Econ undergrad degrees are pretty worthless. I'd do CS or Statistics or Applied Math if I could do it all over again.

Nov 20, 2013

slam as many hotties as you can and try to do your best on crossing off different ethnicities.

    • 1
Nov 20, 2013
ST Monkey:

slam as many hotties as you can and try to do your best on crossing off different ethnicities.

are we playing capture the flag?

    • 1
Nov 20, 2013

You are definitely more creative than I am with this. I had only captured less than half the flags I had set out to accomplish.

Nov 20, 2013

Great post! I am currently pursuing my degree online, any suggestions on trying to find a mentor? Obtaining a degree online is the only way possible for my current schedule but I am really missing out on the relationship building and networking of going to a brick and mortar school. Any advice? Thanks.

Nov 19, 2013

Hmmm... Certainly is a unique situation. One I haven't really thought about before! Just remember, a mentor can be anybody. A family member, a close friend, a favorite high school teacher, coworker, etc. Utilize the resources you do have to your advantage. Glean wisdom from those who are older and/or more experienced than you. A mentor can just be someone who pushes you beyond your limits and forces you to set goals, achieve them, and monitor them.

As far as networking goes, don't be afraid to reach out via cold email/call. Cast your net wide, brother!

Nov 20, 2013

One thing that keeps amusing me....seems like nowadays people link fun with getting drunk....what will you do later on in life when getting drunk might not be an option? stop having fun?

Nov 19, 2013
AlexejKir:

what will you do later on in life when getting drunk might not be an option?

Does not compute.

Nov 19, 2013
AlexejKir:

One thing that keeps amusing me....seems like nowadays people link fun with getting drunk....what will you do later on in life when getting drunk might not be an option? stop having fun?

When would that stop being an option?

Nov 19, 2013
AlexejKir:

One thing that keeps amusing me....seems like nowadays people link fun with getting drunk....what will you do later on in life when getting drunk might not be an option? stop having fun?

One thing that keeps amusing me, especially on this site, is a lack of logical coherence.

Let's review the basic logic:

1) Fun is something that feels good.
2) Drinking feels good.
3) Therefore, drinking is fun.

This isn't rocket science here folks.

    • 1
Nov 20, 2013

Great post. Keep up the good work. And reading GQ is a must.

I'm bi-winning. I win here, and I win there.

Nov 22, 2013

This is an excellent list !

"You are neither right nor wrong because the crowd disagrees with you. You are right because your data and reasoning are right."

-Warren Buffett

Nov 22, 2013

I can't see bucket bongs on the list. Or bath tub bongs. What sort of undergrad lifestyle are you living?

Nov 19, 2013

I had enough fun with grav bongs in high school. I'll never forget the one time I did it in a lake haha

Nov 23, 2013

agreed on (1) health, (2) news. Also would add (1) Read, (2) travel/explore yourself... potentially indulging in certain ways that become unacceptable once you become a real human, (3) don't get locked down on one girl... there's so much time for that later on. Even if you really like her, you should be exploring/testing what type of woman you want to be with... not just choosing one you like. You may like her, but you don't know how much you could like someone else. It's time you'll never get back.

Also- drink a lot. and diversify your alcohol intake. Sometimes get slammed off brews with the brothers, other times drink G+Ts with your dad, other times drink red wine with your current girly, and then sometimes meet up with a weird hipster kid in your english class and drink white russians on a tuesday afternoon. But drink. It'll open you up to other, different people, and create a bond. I'm actually serious, I'm not just being an idiot. Ask Hemingway. Oh, and that reminds me - read a lot of Hemingway. You'll understand when you're older.

Nov 23, 2013

I am an undergrad and I realize the hard work in preparing for a career and I am a submariner, so I am fairly familiar with the various drinking days (White Russian Wednesday was always a favorite of mine) but can someone make a list of what type of certifications or external courses and training that would be good to have for skill base or improve a resume to get an interview? Thanks for any input.

Very Respectfully,
Bberry

Nov 25, 2013

OP is having fun at university I see..

Nov 25, 2013

Didn't do any of the things listed. #What_a_waste

Nov 26, 2013

all of these are pretty spot on. great post!