I’m a college dropout.
I didn’t mean to be. I was going to be a professional. I was going to help others, and get paid for it. I was going to make a lot of money, have a big house, drive a fast car, and have the perfect family.
We’re told this by the world. Go to college and the keys to the “kingdom” will be handed to you. But this isn’t the case for many of us, even to this smart-mouthed intellectual. And it might not happen to you.
However, the odds can be in your favor. Avoid the mistakes I made and follow these pointers that I banged out for you:
- Avoid the Fraternity or Sorority – While making and developing relationships is important, I found this one the most helpful and would recommend it to everyone. Don’t do the frat house. While these are supposed life-long relationships with your “brothers” or “sisters,” they can very distracting and unproductive. Have fun in college, but too much partying, noise, interruptions, lack of sleep, messes, fines, fees and arrests can become a burden. It might even be better just to do the community college for the first year or two—after all, the first couple of years are mostly general education classes, which will cost you a fraction to take, locally.
- Utilize Your Freedom – Manage your time and productivity. College might be the first time that no one is breathing on your neck or looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re cleaning your room, doing your homework, or coming home by Midnight. While you are free to do what you wish, make sure you are being responsible about when what is done where. This can mean a world of difference, especially if you eat well and are rested – It’ll give you the endurance to run a more fun race. Also, living off campus can be very beneficial, as can doing your own laundry.
- Use Student Perks, and Shop Online – Most places, especially around campus, have discounts and even freebies for students. All you need is a student ID. Also, one of the best ways to save while at school is on the essentials: books. Avoid the student bookstore—buy from Amazon or another online retail outlet.
- Study Smarter – and stay on track. I rarely studied in high school. I didn’t have to. If I paid half attention in class, and banged out a few pages of homework, I would pass tests. But please keep in mind: college is different. Tons of pages to read, and tons of pages to type out, you can possibly have more hours of homework to do than you have hours outside of class. There are hacks you can do. Don’t read every word as if you’re reading aloud. You can ramble a bit in your papers. There are more ways to get a passing or excelling grade in your classes without sacrificing hours of social opportunities or emotional health. Last thing, if your major isn’t any longer your interest, change it. If need be, change it often. This is your life and your future, not anyone else’s.
- Get a Job and/or Internship – You’ll need the cash and experience. Books my Freshman year cost about $500, which almost maxed out my new credit card. A brand new adult, and already in debt to a credit card, a college and the government. Nothing could benefit you more than getting a job, if at least to help pay for movies on the weekends with friends, or dining with a hot date. Getting a job is almost a necessity if you’ve never had a job before – trust me on this. You’ll need to learn how to do something menial and deal with customers.
- Keep an Updated Resume – Develop a professional social profile, and develop professional skills. LinkedIn is the thing now, and many employers are hitting social media for employees. Keep this in mind when posting events, views and photos on Facebook, Instagram and Kik. There are many people not hired when they could have been, but something tagged on Facebook or tweeted on Twitter was the deal-breaker. Why pay tens of thousands of dollars and put in tens of hours of studying in only to have all of that halted (or at least, put on hold) because of displayed youthful immaturity.
- Develop a Spreadsheet of Contacts – Be friends with everyone. Everyone you meet is a potential contact and reference. I messed up and recently deleted from my life everyone from my past that isn’t involved in my life right now, and I regret it. Phone numbers, Facebook friends, out-of-state addresses—all can be useful in the future. Even if you’re shy and aren’t buddies with your old pals, and even if you have a list of strangers in your database, they can all be a possibility for a business contact, a decade-old reference, or someone to squat with on an emergency trip to the coast. While I rarely used OPEN OFFICE HOURS, most will say it’s one of the most useful things, even if it’s to have a name placed to your face.
- Explore and Experiment – College is a place for growth. For myself and most others, the biggest life lessons and good memories are outside of the classroom. Get out and enjoy life while at college. See the countryside, hit the local shops, hang with the locals, do Thanksgiving with a college friend in another state, and go abroad for the summer. Go to concerts, festivals, parks, walks, and train rides to nowhere in particular. Live it up. Meet people. Kiss randomly. Eat exotically. Show love unhindered. Speak confidently and listen humbly. These can be awesome years and don’t let a closed mind and loose wallet hold you back.
Originally published at: http://goodmenproject.com