College is one of the most exciting times of your life! For most, it’s the time you get to be on your own for the first time and start working towards your dreams.
But it’s also so different than anything else you have or will experience. College can set you on your career path and can help you DISCOVER that career path.
But there are some super important things I wish someone had told me before or even during college that I had to learn on my own the “hard way”. So here are the 10 secrets for succeeding in college I wish I knew before school started!
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Bonus tip: If you don’t currently have a planner that is specifically for college then go get one now!
1) Try to get a “college job” that is relevant to your career.
Let’s break this down into two categories- if you need to work and if you don’t.
If you need to work this can be a little trickier depending on your major/career path. For me, I needed to work in college so I had to find a job that I could work full time, worked with my class schedule, and would help my career.
That’s not an easy task! I actually ended up switching my major to align with my “college job” because I fell in love with the hotel industry but most people aren’t that lucky.
But if you are able to work even remotely close to the industry you want to pursue that will help. If you are a Fashion Design student then get a college job working in retail.
Anything to get your foot in the door.
That being said, if you don’t HAVE to work it’s still worth it to work a couple hours a week to start making connections. It never hurts to meet people and make some good impressions early on in your career. These secrets to succeeding in college will help you stay sane while in school!
2) Keep applying to scholarships.
There are TONS of scholarships that let you apply even after you have started college.
There are some that are even just for students that are certain years in college. Use scholarship search tools to help you locate these scholarships.
There are also potentially scholarships that you can only apply for once you are in your program so make sure to actually read the emails from your academic department because that’s where that information frequently will be at.
I recommend getting a scholarship tracker to help with this!
3) Make friends within your major.
Making friends within your major is important for succeed in college for 2 reasons.
- You never know when you will see them again. The people in your major could very easily end up being your co-workers after graduation. So if you go to class and ignore everyone, are rude, don’t pay attention, etc than those impressions can follow you into your post- grad career.
- Like minded friends can be very important for staying sane in college! If you are a chemistry major and your roommates are all education majors then they won’t necessarily be going through the same struggles as you academically. Ask your classmates to study with you, you can build friendships and help each other academically.
4) It’s never too early to make a graduation plan.
Start getting an idea of what your after-graduation plan looks like sooner rather than later.
For some programs/degrees you need to start applying to post-graduate programs or jobs early in your senior year. You don’t want to be applying too late and either missing deadlines or missing out on great positions because you didn’t have a plan for after graduation.
I have a whole guide on making a graduation plan that can help with this! This guide is full of other helpful secrets for succeeding in college.
5) Take your living situation seriously.
When you’re deciding where to live off campus (or if you should live off campus) it’s important to seriously consider your options and what will be best for you.
Location is super important, especially if you go to a school with a large campus. You don’t want to live on south campus with your friends but then find yourself walking 2 miles to get to all your classes on north campus.
It’s also incredibly important to make sure any roommates you do get to pick have similar priorities to you. Make sure you align on things like house parties, study times, cleanliness, etc.
Even if that means maybe not living with your “best friends” because living with people that align with your goals is very important for succeeding in college!
6) Use outside resources for studying.
Don’t be afraid to use outside resources besides lecture/recitation to learn.
YouTube videos got me through calculus! There are so many videos on how to do almost everything in every subject. And there is nothing wrong with using those resources to learn if you aren’t getting the education you need from your professor.
Like if grammar isn’t your best friend (I’m guilty of this too) – Use resources like grammarly.com to help you.
7) The sooner you learn to balance the better.
Classes. Studying. Socializing. Working. Sleeping.
There is a lot to balance in college and not nearly enough hours in the day.
So the sooner you learn how to balance everything the better off you will be and the saner you will feel.
For more on balancing (because it’s very important) then read this guide.
8) The habits you set in college will follow you for a long time.
Habits are easy(ish) to form and much harder to break.
Which is why setting yourself up for success sooner rather than later is so vital for succeeding.
Things like when you go to bed, when you wake up, your eating habits, your work ethic, etc are all habits you probably start to form in college but they are also the habits you will have once you graduate. You can change them of course but it’s so much easier and more efficient to work on better habits while in college.
Go get a cheap habit tracker and put it next to your bed. Realizing what the habits you are forming are is so important for this step!
9) Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Academic, personal, relationship, whatever it is… it’s okay to ask for help.
Use your schools counselor sessions. Ask your mom to call. Go to office hours.
Just remember- asking for help is NORMAL and will help you. I know so many people who struggled in different areas of college that they could have asked for help with and it would have significantly improved their years in college.
10) This is the time to try new things.
Take an elective credit in something you think you might be interested in!
Join some clubs!
Take that “fun” job!
College is the time to try new things and start to figure yourself out. You will probably never be in a situation again where you can try so many new things!
So go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief- you now know the most important secrets for succeeding in college!
You can head into your freshman year of college knowing you are ready for this exciting chapter of your life.
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