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.
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...
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.
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.
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...
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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