Lauren Benning

Whether you’re entering college as a freshman or returning for another year, it can be difficult to adjust to the pressures and demands of life at a university or college.  These three tips can help you make strides toward achieving your professional and personal goals while at school.  As a college student currently going into my fourth year, I believe that these tips are useful in forming a solid foundation for making the best of your college experience. 

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1) Know your school’s resources

Familiarize yourself with every resource your school has to offer, even as a first-year student.  You may not need them immediately, but if you do in the future, you’ll know in advance which resources are available to you.  When you find yourself in need of help, you can facilitate the process of getting help by knowing where to turn.  One area in particular to be well-versed in is career resources.  Take the time to ensure that you’re pursuing your desired career path.  You may explore career options and affirm that you’re in the right major, but you may also find that there's another career in which you could better use your gifts and talents.  Save yourself time, money, and stress by investigating your career options early on in college.  Be sure not to waste time being enrolled in and attending classes that are preparing you for a career that’s not well suited to you.  Classes are expensive, so look into careers with your skills and interests in mind to avoid the stress of pursuing a degree you’re not passionate about and don’t have the finances or time to switch out of later.

2) Seek help as soon as possible

Let’s say you find yourself challenged by a course you’re taking.  You’ve done research on the resources available to you, so instead of waiting to ask your questions or hope they clear up, get help as soon as questions arise.  You may seek guidance from your professors and teaching assistants, a tutor, or online resources.  Whichever method you choose, don’t hesitate to get help.  That way you have more time to get comfortable with the material and, in a fast-paced course, you can better focus on learning new concepts.  If you’re living in university housing, feel free to talk with the resident assistant as problems or concerns arise.  Your safety and relationships with those you live amongst both have the ability to influence whether or not your time at college is beneficial to you.  Whatever kind of difficult situations you may find yourself in, make your college experience as conducive to your growth as possible by searching for solutions as soon as possible. 

3) Research student organizations

Getting involved in student organizations is not only a good way to further prepare yourself for your career, but also a valuable tool for encouraging development of personal values and aspirations.  In order to make an informed decision on which organizations to join, read through all of the opportunities that are available.  Take note of what sparks your interest; you may even find yourself looking into groups you wouldn’t have expected to.  Free of the obligation to join, visit the meetings of groups that appeal to you to help you decide which ones you’d like to get involved in.  If you’re returning and have never gotten involved in student organizations, it’s not too late to do so, even if you’re in your last year.  It may feel uncomfortable to join a group at first, but the people you’ll meet, new perspectives you’ll encounter, and learning opportunities you’ll have are all worth it.  

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Whatever difficult situation you may find yourself in, search for solutions as soon as you can.

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The best decisions I’ve made in college have all been connected to getting involved in student organizations.  Since my relationship with God has been the most important part of my life, I decided that it would remain a priority while at college.  During the summer before my first year, I was in search of an encouraging, faith-based community to join.  A month before moving into the dorms, I visited my university’s website and took notes on the various groups’ beliefs so that I could make an informed decision as to which group I should join.  

Starting college was a busy time, so I found it helpful to enter college already knowing which community I wanted to become engaged in.  Since I agreed with their statement of faith and their purpose, I decided to check out a group called Cru by visiting their weekly meeting and the Bible study for my area of campus.  I joined Cru because the group was indeed encouraging, especially with getting to talk about God’s Word with other students and hear testimonies of how God has been working in people’s lives.  By taking the time to research groups I was interested in and visiting their meetings, I opened myself to these fruitful experiences and supportive relationships.

How you live your college years can have a lasting influence on your life.  It will be helpful to get in the practice of being proactive in addressing your questions and concerns, making educated decisions, and investing your time in things you find to be important.  These tips can help make that lasting influence as beneficial as possible. 

 

Lauren Benning is attending Michigan State University where she’s studying English with a concentration in creative writing.

 

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