30 November 2012

Finishing College Ahead of the Rest

The college atmosphere is a very competitive one, but it is possible to come out among the very best if you’re willing to put in some hard work and real effort. As Edison famously said, genius is 99% perspiration, so if you want to make a real impact you have to be prepared to do the work.

It goes without saying, of course, that you should do your very best to make good grades in college. Making good grades isn’t as hard as you might think either. Make sure that you attend every class, only missing when it is completely unavoidable. If you must miss a class, immediately get the notes from another responsible student—look for someone who pays attention and frequently raises his or her hand to answer questions in class or to contribute to the classroom discussion. You should also pay attention and take careful notes in every class yourself. Avoid overloading yourself or taking too many hours each semester, so that you can give each class your all. Also be sure to choose your coursework with the help of a college counselor or advisor so that you don’t end up taking classes that you don’t need. College courses are becoming increasingly expensive in America and so it’s best to avoid taking extraneous classes which won’t contribute to your degree; only enroll in an extraneous class if it’s an absolute must.

Planning your time wisely is incredibly important as well. These days, most college students are overloaded with responsibility. Many of them hold down jobs, raise families, and do a million other things in addition to carrying their heavy school load. Map out time each day to get your homework done and, when you have a big test or project coming up, start preparing early! Most professors will provide the dates for tests and major projects well ahead of time, so if you ever find yourself with free time on your hands, you can work ahead. Though it can be tempting to goof off and while you should give yourself some “you time,” you should ideally be working on something every day in addition to attending your classes. Time management is one of the more critical skills for building a successful and rewarding adult life, and there’s no better place to put it to use than on a college campus.

You also have to make sure that you’ve chosen the right major for you. If you find that you don’t enjoy or aren’t interested in any of your core classes, then you’ve got a problem on your hands. While everyone will take a few classes they aren’t crazy about, you should find some enjoyment in your core area of study. If you are unhappy, talk to your college counselor about what your options are. He or she may even be able to offer you testing and other options for discovering your skills. Remember that it is never too late to change majors if you discover that you do not have either the requisite skill level or interest; after all, it is far better to change to a better direction than proceed down a path which you are clearly ill-equipped to succeed in.

If you are happy with your major and intend to use it in your future career endeavors, know that it’s never too early to start pursuing relevant internships. Internships may be paid, unpaid, or sometimes even taken for college credit. In any case, they help you to gain important experience that can enable you to get a job over someone else, and they give you the opportunity to meet important connections in your field, connections that could lead to employment later on down the road, either directly or indirectly. Your college counselor can give you more information on internships, and if you have a career center on campus, it will generally have information as well. You can even be proactive and find internships yourself by searching online or contacting companies or individuals you are interested in working with and learning from directly.  The more control you take of your education now, the more control you’ll have over your future later.

This article was composed by Roy McClure for the team at newschoolarch.edu; click here to learn more about their master of science in architecture degree program.