How to make the best of your college life?

Like millions of young people across the globe, you may be starting your college this year. Here are some suggestions for you to make the best out of your college life.

To two men living the same number of years, the world always provides the same sum of experiences. It is up to us to be concious of them.

Albert Camus, The myth of Sisyphus

The next 3-4 years of your life will be the most stimulating years of your life. These years will help you gradually move from teenager to adulthood. It is a brilliant opportunity to learn about the world you are about to become a tax-paying member of. These are some of the things you could do to not miss out on this golden opportunity.

Take it slow

It is not that i am mad, it is only that my head is different from yours.

Diogenes

My first advice is to hold your judgments.

You are going to meet different people from different parts of the country, some even from different parts of the world. Don’t be too quick to conclude about someone’s habits, culture or goals. Whenever you get a chance, talk to new people. Try to listen to their stories, experiences and opinions. You will not get to meet so many new people in such a short period of time again in your life. This will broaden your perspective about how people live, which is what you must aim to learn, a way to live.

Find your voice

Knowing yourself is the begining of all wisdom.

Aristotle

As you are learning to accept that the world is weirder than you thought, you must also find some things to stand for or stand against. Voice your opinions. If you are not so vocal, write them in the privacy of your journal. Just listening or reading to yourself will make your thoughts about matters around you clearer. Understanding your preferences is important because when presented with a choice, such as choosing a career or a life partner, you must know what you want. The choice you will make will have real life-altering consequences.

It all starts with testing the boundaries of your comfort zone. If you have been studious throughout your life, try going to a couple of parties and see what is it about. If you have been the star of every party so far, try to isolate yourself from the crowd for a while. If you like food, try to fast once a week. See how that feels and what do you like or do not like about that situation. The more you challenge yourself, the more you will learn about yourself.

Learn to speak

Your success in life will be determined largely by your ability to speak, your ability to write and the quality of your ideas, in that order.

Prof. Patrick Wilson, MIT How to Speak, IAP 2018

Speaking in a formal environment is essentially a presentation skill. I mean that you need to learn to be an orator. Speaking in a group presentation, presenting your thesis, and speaking in an interview are some examples of this. Statistically speaking, you may be one of the people who fear public speaking. That is why working on this skill during college is necessary.

Formal speaking is a skill just like any other and hence, can be improved. One effective method is to write notes and practise before a mirror. Write in short bullet points and not whole sentences. This will allow you to learn to speak by looking at your audience and not forgetting what you are talking about. This is just one of many methods available and I do not want you to stick to just one. Try out what works for you and practise. Take lead in projects and fight if you must for a chance to speak. This is the safest and lowest stakes public speaking forum you will ever get. Use it well to hone your skills.

Meet your heroes

I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what i am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the begining.

Michel Foucault, Truth, Power, Self

Wouldn’t it be great if someone showed you a movie of the next 40 years of your life? And not just one, 10 different versions of what your life could be? And you could choose any of those paths and with some preparation and luck, live an exciting life.

Well, that’s not possible. Sorry.

But you have the next best thing.

Learn the life of the people who inspire you. Learn about the events which shaped their lives and the situations in which they grew up. Examine each milestone, each failure and everything in between. Choose people from your field of profession, cultural and religious background or any criteria in the way you relate to them.

These introspections will tell you at least two things:

  1. They lived and worked in very different situations than you.
  2. The opportunities they got were a combination of being in the right place at the right time, talent and perseverance despite difficulties.

These humbling truths will guide you to choose your profession and your life partner, two decisions that will be responsible for most of your excitement or lack of it.

Discover your ambition

“I bargained with Life for a penny,
and Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store;

Life is a just employer.
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid”

Jessie B. Rittenhouse

For me, this poem reminds me that what I am doing today is just what I have settled for right now. Neither my present job defines my being, nor does it limit my potential. I can aim to be something seemingly impossible and work my way towards it and with luck and preparation, achieve it. It is possible. Hard work is your vehicle to reach your aim while your ambition is the fuel that makes that vehicle move.

Sometimes in your life, you will go through a phase, where just doing the same thing day in and day out would be the only option. Don’t worry, we all go through it. It too shall pass.

Imagine a life for you. What inspires you. What excites you. Try to find something which allows you to help humankind. This one thing can hold together your life when things get tough and everything seems to fall apart.

Develop a hobby

A foolish consistancy is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by the little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, self-Reliance

Break routines and find some activities not related to your curriculum. That can be any sport, playing a musical instrument, standup etc. And dedicate yourself to these pursuits. Try many things but come back to a few which give you peace of mind. Become proficient in them. These hobbies will always help you settle in a new city, make new friends and find people with a similar passion. These will be social skills that will not only entertain you in your personal time but also increase your value to the people around you.

Parting words

College life can be many things. If I have learned anything from experience, you will have free time at your hand. Utilise it well and you would not regret it.

That’s all for now. Keep being awesome.

Author: Ykazmi

Hi, I am Yasir, a Civil Engineer, working in Germany. I am a firm believer that we should leave the world a better place than we came in. Along these lines, this website is dedicated to helping you, motivating you and supporting you in your journey to a better and happier life. As with everything in life, including you and me, it is a work in progress but I am dedicated to being there when you need me.

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