Is your college student taking full advantage of their opportunities in college? As with so many things during the college years, students struggle to find balance in many areas of their lives. They face many challenges, opportunities, and growing responsibilities. College experiences come in many forms, and your student needs to determine how to negotiate these experiences. In several areas, students may need help in discovering how to find the “extra value”.
Students come to college expecting a new level of schoolwork. Most rise to the challenge of different types of classes and increased homework. They know that they are required to spend more time outside of class doing schoolwork. They know that their thinking may be challenged on a new level. Many students do the work required and gain tremendous knowledge from their classes.
Students may, or may not, take full advantage of the academic opportunities available to them on their campus. Encourage your student to explore the sources of academic opportunities outside of the classroom.
- Many colleges have world-class libraries with tremendous resources. These libraries also have access to materials available all around the world. Making a connection with a research librarian is very helpful in discovering what is available.
- Many colleges and universities have free tutoring available on campus. Tutors may be professional or they may be peer tutors who have taken and excelled in particular courses. Connecting with a tutor, early in the semester, can make a course more manageable.
- Many colleges offer lecture series by visiting scholars. Students have the opportunity to hear world renowned speakers on a wide range of topics. This can broaden a student’s thinking far beyond the classroom.
- Students have opportunities to talk to professors who are currently working in and/or researching important topics, as well as to gather with other students with similar interests. College provides wonderful opportunities for stimulating thinking by sharing ideas.
- Students may have the opportunity to pursue a special topic or research area with a professor who may be an expert in the field. They can make important connections between their in class work and their practical experiences.
A big part of college life is taking advantage of the social opportunities. Students will make many new friends in college – often friends who will remain important for a lifetime. Students will engage in activities, party, play, and generally have fun during college. Many of their most lasting memories will be of some of their college experiences. This is an important aspect of college life.
Students may have opportunities to stretch their social life to broaden their experiences.
- Seek out people who are different. Get to know people with different interests, from different parts of the country, from different countries, with different beliefs. Learning about others will help students not only learn about others, but about themselves as well.
- Many schools offer the opportunity for “field trips” and outings in the area. Students can take advantage of these experiences to get off campus and get to know the area well – and also experience some new things.
- Students can participate in many different clubs and/or organizations on campus. This will give them the opportunity to spend time with people with similar interests and well as possibly provide leadership opportunities.
- Students can take advantage of visiting cultural experiences. Colleges often offer performance opportunities for dance programs, symphonies, artists, plays, performers.
Part of college life is being exposed to new experiences. Students come to college expecting to have some new opportunities. They may find new community service opportunities and/or internship opportunities. Students who take advantage of these experiential opportunities take their classroom learning into the real world.
- Some students may have the opportunity to participate in more than one internship. Interning in different types of environments will give the student a chance to compare possible jobs as well as build a robust resume.
- Most colleges now offer short or long-term study abroad opportunities. The experience of studying abroad requires a significant commitment, but can be a life transforming experience.
- Students might seek experiences that stretch them outside of their comfort zone. They may participate in new kinds of environments, or new roles – either through community service or internships. Experimenting within the framework of a safe college program can be beneficial.
- Students can take advantage of leadership opportunities provided. This is a chance to discover their strengths and areas for improving skills.
College provides students with many new experiences and opportunities. These experiences come in all forms, but many revolve around academic, social and experiential areas. For many students, the college experience will be whatever they make of it. Students who seek those “value added” opportunities, who push themselves beyond the minimum, will carry away richer, more broad experiences.