(STL.News) College is what you make it. You can certainly spend four years there and change very little as a person. However, it’s much more likely that it will change you in many ways that you aren’t even aware of. If you want to embrace it as a time to really shake up your life and broaden your view of the world, you’ll enjoy a memorable four years. Below are several changes you can look forward to during this part of your life.
Becoming More Financially Independent
Even if you’re getting a lot of financial help from your parents, you’re probably more financially independent than you’ve ever been before in your life. This is a good time to start teaching yourself smart money habits, such as budgeting, that will help you for the rest of your life. You might want to consider getting a part-time job. Being even partially self-supporting can help build your confidence and make you feel as though you have more autonomy when it comes to your finances.
You may also want to think about getting a credit card. If you’re having money problems, putting everything on your credit card shouldn’t be the solution, but it can be helpful if there is an emergency. You can start teaching yourself how to manage credit responsibly and begin building a good credit history. Look over what kind of student credit cards are available before making the important decision about the right one.
New Intellectual Vistas
Some view college as largely a credential to be gained en route to gainful employment, and that is certainly one element of higher education. However, even if you are majoring in a very practical subject, such as accounting, the great thing about these years is that you also have the opportunity for a huge amount of intellectual exploration. That can start with choosing interesting electives and really engaging with your professor and classmates. However, there are other outlets for this exploration as well. You might go to talks or other events on campus about subjects you knew nothing about.
Expanding Your Cultural Horizons
At college, you may find yourself around people from many different cultural backgrounds. There will be international students and students from different parts of the country. Try to spend some time with those who are unlike you just to help you broaden your ideas about people. One of the best things you can do as a college student is a study abroad. This gives you the chance to really experience another culture.
Don’t assume that you can’t afford to do this. Your school may have an agreement with a foreign university to allow you to pay home tuition and attend. You might also be able to use student loans to pay tuition overseas. You could even enroll directly in a foreign university. In some countries, a student visa also allows you to work part-time. Make sure that you understand what credits will transfer. Studying abroad can help build your problem-solving skills and looks great to an employer.
If many from your hometown are attending your college, you might be tempted to hang out with them. However, this would be a mistake. You don’t have to ditch your best friend who’s going to the same school, but you should try to meet new people. You can make both personal and professional connections in this time that last for the rest of your life. This will allow you to gain useful career advice as well as invaluable life experiences. Many of these connections will happen just as you’re hanging out with others in your dorm or chatting with people outside of class or the dining hall.
From parties and other social gatherings to more formally organized events, there’s so much going on all the time on and near campus. Even if you’re shy or an introvert, you should try to take advantage of some of these activities. In fact, this is a great time to try some things you’ve always been interested in but never had the courage or opportunity to take part in, whether that’s acting, rock climbing, getting more involved in politics, or anything else. You may just find a new passion in life or might even make a change to your career path.
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