I recently wrote a blog called, “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me About College.” Anyway, I’m feeling good, and believe me, there are plenty of things you’ll want to know about college before you go. So here is some extra credit just for you.
- Show up on the first day of class. One thing I always heard from my peers was that I did not need to show up on the first day because all the teacher was going to do was hand out the syllabus. As tempting as it can be to miss class, this is a bad idea. The first day can help you to prioritize school with everything else in your life, especially if it’s your first year in college. Typically, teachers also give you an overview of the class and the direction it is headed for the semester. Plus, contrary to popular belief, many teachers do teach on day one; trust me, you don’t want to start your semester playing catch up.
- Learn how to budget and stick to it. One of the great things about going to college is not just the classes, but it’s the freedom you have in being on your own for the first time. You can now make choices about a lot of things, and the responsibility is on you. Nowhere is this more prevalent than with your finances. Whether you’re receiving money from your parents, a job, or another source, learn how to budget. Budgeting your income holds your spending habits in check and will keep you from going into debt. Not only is it a great skill to learn for personal reasons, but you’ll likely need to know how to budget in your career, so you might as well start now.
- Take the hard class that no one else wants to take. College offers a lot of options in terms of classes. In many ways, you’ll be tempted to take the easy way out. But before you fill up your schedule with classes about underwater basket weaving, the art of walking, or your favorite superhero, try taking classes that will challenge you. One that I would recommend: public speaking. The fact is that at some point you are probably going to have to give a presentation or speak in public in some way, so you might as well learn how to do it effectively.
- Ask Questions. We’ve all heard the cliché, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question”; but in college, you need to ask questions. Asking questions not only helps to clarify things we don’t understand, but it also helps us to critically think. If you ask me, people don’t ask enough questions nowadays. We just do things blindly without much consideration. So if you’re not sure what to do or why you are supposed to do something, just ask.
- Network, network, network. Another popular phrase that you’ll begin to hear is, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” Just because you got a degree in your major does not mean you are guaranteed a job. It takes a lot more than an education to get hired. Take time to network in college at every opportunity. Get to know your professors, the people at your internship, or the boss at your part-time job. When it comes time to furnish references, you’ll be thankful you did.
Bonus: Enjoy your part-time job and learn from it. Speaking of part-time jobs, it’s more than likely that you will have one during your years in college. As someone in the workforce right now, let me give you this piece of advice: enjoy it. Now, I love what I do, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say there weren’t times when I would love to just go back to slicing sandwiches from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. every Wednesday. Part-time jobs are great – not only to bring in some income, but also to begin to appreciate what it takes to work under a boss.
Many of you may be asking, “This is great, but what does it have to do with my Catholic faith?” Everything we do should be centered on Jesus Christ. Whether it is our education, finances, or future career, we owe it to Him to take these gifts and use them for His glory. The more we are prepared, the better we will follow His call; and after all, isn’t that what life is all about? Please know that once you graduate, you are still a part of the Life Teen family, and we will be praying for you in all your future endeavors.