I’ll admit it. I didn’t put much time into my studies in college.
Yet I absolutely loved the experience, and unlike most kids who don’t try very hard in school, I still got a lot out of it. Here are my top five unconventional ways to get the most out of college.
1. Get a part-time job in a field you enjoy — it may become your actual job one day.
My first real tech job was at an on-campus non-profit web startup. I applied before I ever even stepped foot on campus, nailed the interview, and enjoyed every bit of the time I worked there. I learned a whole lot about web development, which eventually helped launched my career a few years later.
2. Be outgoing and make friends with people you normally wouldn’t be friends with.
The social aspects of college are incredible. You’ll never get another chance to spend so much time simply meeting and hanging out with so many different types of people. Don’t waste it.
3. Take day trips to cool places outside of your campus.
It’s all too easy to get trapped in your daily routine of class, partying, video games, etc. Get out of town with a few friends and go experience something else besides what your college offers. In hindsight, I wish I had done a lot more of this.
4. Pitch a department head on a new project you can get paid to create.
A friend of mine introduced me to the head of the bioengineering department at my school, who I pitched a new website idea for. I spent one summer creating the site and getting paid pretty well to do it. I met a bunch of awesome new people too! Tip: it’s actually really easy to get in front of department chairpeople, and they usually have a budget to spend on just about anything they see fit.
5. Start a company with your friends.
Some of the world’s best companies were created by a handful of friends in college (Facebook is perhaps the best example). You don’t have to dream that big, or even be successful. It’s all about the process of starting something and seeing it to completion. This experience will benefit you later in life, regardless of how your project turns out.
There are many other benefits to college than just going to class and studying. Make sure to take advantage of all of the amazing opportunities that this chapter in your life affords you.