I’ve been in college for 5 years now (yes, I know that’s a long time and it’s a long story to explain, so more on that later) and each year as I welcome new, bright-eyed freshman or transfers to university, I wish them the best of luck in school and give them advice for things to do while in college. Although studies are top priority, it is important to find time to do things other than study or write research papers. Here is a list of activities I recommend anyone in college or university to do before graduating to ensure they have a fun and successful academic career.
This is a great way to become familiar with your school and get insider tips and tricks to succeed. I attended community college for 3 years and never once went on a tour of the school. So I learned this lesson the hard way-by trial and error! My first day of class was terrifying because I didn’t have a campus map and had no idea where the Science & Engineering building was, not to mention the bookstore! It took me 3 years to get the hint and when I transferred to university I signed up for a tour right away. Every once in a while, I tag along behind a tour to learn new advice and fun facts that the tour guides are offering.
**Tip: Be prepared to walk a long way and dress appropriately for the weather. A good pair of shoes and a water bottle or two will serve you well as you explore your future Alma mater.
Mascots are the most energetic and photogenic people ever! They are also working very hard to keep the crowd pumped up, so be sure to thank them when you can. I don’t think I would be able to run around like a maniac jumping up and down and waving my arms even if I was paid to do so. I like donuts, Twinkies and a comfortable couch way too much for a job like that! Nevertheless, there are a select few who love to put on those amazing animal costumes and get some fitness in. Getting a photo with your school’s mascot is a great way to capture your school spirit. So walk to the bottom of the bleachers, run onto the field, and take a pic with your mascot!
Even if you attend college in a small town or city, its worth the time to walk around and become familiar with the area, shops, parks, etc. At UC Davis there is a place called the Arboretum that is full of amazing scenery, wildlife, and walking/bike trails for everyone’s enjoyment. Find your college’s version of the Arboretum and explore. Remember to have your camera in tow to take lots of pics!
**Tip: Exploring is a great stress-reliever and can help you with academics. For example, one day when I was exploring I found a small local library. I thought it looked cute, but didn’t pay much attention because my university’s library was much bigger. A few weeks later, I was visiting my school’s library in search of a required text for my English class. The book could not be found! I quickly remembered about the small library in my neighborhood and paid a visit. Low and behold, they had the book I needed! That walk around the neighborhood saved me money that would have been spent if I had to buy the book from the bookstore!
This is a great way to make money while taking notes for one of your regularly scheduled classes! You simply give a copy of your notes to a peer in need. Many colleges and universities offer opportunities to become a notetaker. I first became a notetaker when I transferred to university and I wish I had begun notetaking much earlier. It was such a great experience helping peers who need the assistance of a notetaker while being able to make a few bucks on the side. Check the Student Disability Center (or your school’s version of a Student Disability Center) to inquire if there is a need for notetakers at your school.
**Tip: During my term serving as a notetaker I found that the easiest way to send notes to my peers was via email. Don’t be afraid to invest in a portable scanner to scan and import your notes to your computer. It will totally pay off and save time from having to meet everyone in person.
There is nothing like a football game, basketball game, baseball game or any other word that ends with ‘ball’ type of game to help people come together and have a great time. I’m not usually one for sports, except tennis, but I made an effort to attend sporting events at my university along with a few friends and it was a very rewarding experience. There was even raffles for bikes and other items, which added more excitement to the event. So if you are looking for an opportunity to share your enthusiasm about sports with like-minded people, then attend a ball game. Make new friends and scream your heart out while cheering on your team!
**Tip: For added fun, dress up with your friends and showcase your school pride!
Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and school. I have served as a volunteer for a variety of events that range from helping people load buckets full of roses into their cars to judging contests and have enjoyed every second of it! You can make a difference in the life of someone else by doing the simplest of deeds-just ask if they need help. Joining clubs that focus on community service is a great way to learn about volunteer opportunities in your area.
**Tip: In my experience, the most difficult part of volunteering is actually finding an event to volunteer at. One way to find hidden volunteer opportunities is to visit your city’s website and view their calendar of events. Many events held will accept volunteers if you simply ask if they need any help. It is also beneficial to list the skills you have to offer to help the organization or group find an appropriate volunteer position for you.
Now at first glance, this suggestion may not be the most appealing to students, but health fairs are a great way to get free items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, or maybe even sunscreen. All of these freebies are useful to a college student’s hygiene and health. Besides, if it’s free why not grab a couple? My favorite health fair freebie was a frisbee (I know it sounds boring, but give it a chance). My friends and I had great times playing with that disc in the park and at school during study breaks. Now, we attend health fairs whenever we have a chance and come home with loads of free and useful items. So if you hear of a health fair on campus, be sure to attend and learn about resources for your health related questions.
There is nothing like watching your peers belt out a song and dance number or act in a dramatic piece on stage to distract yourself after midterms. I have attended many theatre productions, enjoyed all of them and highly recommend you do the same! You will have the opportunity to meet people who like theatre and entertainment as much as you. I even took an Intro to Drama course while in college. It was a very fun and scary experience, but totally worth it. So if you are an inspiring actor, director, or just want to get involved in your college’s drama productions, join the school drama club and visit the drama department to find auditions and ways to get involved. If nothing else, run across campus shouting “Where are the auditions?! Where are the auditions?!”. That’s basically a performance in and of itself.
**Tip: If you want to become involved, but are on the shy side, ask your theatre department if there are opportunities to usher for a performance. I ushered for a performance and it was a great way to see a play for free while greeting guests and directing them to their seats.
5Ks are a great way to get fit or add variety to your fitness routine while helping raise money and awareness toward a great cause. Many colleges and universities have 5Ks to raise money for programs that take place on campus. The first 5K I ran was geared toward helping students raise awareness for healthy lifestyles and it took place on my college’s campus. It was fun to run alongside so many of my peers and be cheered on by a massive crowd. These runs are a great way to get healthy, stay healthy and keep track of your physical fitness.
**Tip: Be sure to train accordingly before attending the 5K. I trained for about a month before the 5K I ran last year and I was happy I had given myself time to prepare.
When I graduated high school and many of my friends moved away for college, my friends and I planned annual dinners to help us maintain contact with one another. Sure, social media helps us keep in touch, but it’s nothing compared to meeting with your friends face-to-face once a year (at the least) and sharing stories about college life. Remember that having a social life outside of school is an important aspect of maintaining a healthy you. So take a night to relax, hang out with friends and catch up.
**Tip: If you and your friends are penny pinching, try meeting up at a specified place and having a potluck or renting a movie and watching it at a friends apartment. It doesn’t have to be a dinner at a fancy restaurant (or even at a not-so-fancy restaurant), if all you can afford is to go out for a walk and having a picnic at the park with your friends, then so be it. As long as you are all together and having a great time!
Have another idea for college students to try? Feel free to post any suggestions in the comments box below!
Ta ta for now!