Do you have a child home from college for the summer? As they plan their next year, here are some tips adapted from an article in Forbes about making the best of the experience.
College is a time when students should find themselves, make new friends and become dependent on themselves. These soft skills are important for life.
Did you understand all you were learning or the power of education when you were a student? It’s something most of only truly appreciated later. Meeting all kinds of people, from all over the world and from different backgrounds, may be the best part of higher education.
Here are some ways to make the most of college:
Explore. So much of what we learn in school isn’t in the textbooks. If you don’t try things, you’ll never know. The worst that can happen is you’ll find out what you don’t like — and in the process, you’ll find what you do!
Learn from failure. There will be exams you do well on, and others you don’t, but that’s where you grow and stretch your expectations. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Failures can lead to your greatest successes.
Don’t judge a person by their looks. We often make a quick judgement based on people’s looks. When you do this, you are often wrong. Spend five minutes with each new person, get to know them, and while you might not become best friends, you will certainly see them in a new light. It can also broaden your horizons to:
- read books on subjects you know nothing about and
- travel to places you never thought of visiting.
You have to meet all kinds of people to stretch what you know.
Take care of yourself. A study across eight countries found 35% of first-year college students struggled with mental health. If you take care of yourself physically, it will help you mentally. Don’t be ashamed to let people know when you can’t shake the blues. If persistent sadness or anxiety last more than two weeks, tell a friend, professor, coach or counselor.
Get hands-on experience. Juggling academics with work or an internship will teach you about time management and prioritization—invaluable skills for life. But there are plenty of other ways to develop skills as a student that will serve you just as well later on; Take the lead on a group project or challenge yourself to give a presentation in class so you can master how to get a message across to a group of people. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, even if you don’t feel ready. You’ll do better the second time!
Build leadership skills in unexpected places. You never know what you’re going to find until you find it. You may have an experience, such as in a club sport, sorority or fraternity, where you learn event planning or other skills that can be used later on the job.
Think long term. It is tempting to celebrate the end of an internship or a challenging class and move on, but you should always think about the big picture:
- Does your supervisor’s field appeal as a career? Ask if they would be willing to mentor you.
- Would you like to improve your skills for your next project? Take advantage of your professor’s office hours and ask for constructive feedback.
Not only will you grow as a leader, but you’ll also start to cultivate relationships that can help you move up the ladder over the course of your career. Your summer break can also be a great time to talk to or have your child talk to a life or career coach.
Schedule time to talk at: