If you talk to adults who went to college, most of them have a few regrets and some things they wish they had done differently. College is all about learning, and you can’t take shortcuts for many of the life lessons that you pick up. However, there are a few items that can make your life much more difficult if not learned by trial and error. Being responsible with your money, formulating a plan and being open to new experiences will all enhance your college experience and set yourself up for success going forward.
Manage Your Money
Too many students graduate from college and start their adult lives already deeply in debt. This is generally because they have borrowed too much in student loans and racked up credit card debt as well. Student loan debt is one of the few types considered to be “good” because the return is an education that substantially increases your lifetime earning power. However, you should still be responsible about how much you borrow. For example, when you are taking out a loan from a private lender, you can use a student loan repayment calculator to get an idea of how much your monthly repayments will be. Make sure this is proportional to the type of job you hope to have after college. As for credit cards, unless you can confine your use only to emergencies, it is best to either not have one or have one with a very low limit so you can’t go too far into debt.
Have a Plan
While some students arrive on campus as freshmen with very definite ideas about what they want to do with the rest of their lives, others drift and end up with generic majors because they couldn’t make a decision. Plenty go on to careers that have nothing to do with what they studied in college, so this isn’t the end of the world. However, you’ll get a lot more out of your expensive four years of higher education if you put some thought into the direction you want to go in. This means not just choosing the right major but also being able to take advantage of joining various organizations, getting internships and making connections. If you are unsure about what you want to do, try talking to your campus career center, your professor and your adviser.
From the opportunity to study abroad to unfamiliar but intriguing classes to internship offers you may believe you are unprepared for and more, you’ll have the chance to take a lot of risks in college, and you should embrace that. This is a great time to get out of your comfort zone. Colleges offer plenty of support to their students, and that means that even though many of these opportunities might feel high-risk, this is largely a matter of mindset. Turning down these chances often happens because of a lack of self-confidence, but this can damage your self-confidence even further. These risks offer a great opportunity to build your confidence, expand your horizons and point you in new directions you might not have considered otherwise.