Efficient and Steady Wins the Race: Some pro tips for making the most of your college experience

Before you start taking any college classes, you should go online and pull up the degree worksheet for your particular major and corresponding graduation year. Print that out, keep it with you and study it. Take time to look up what the prerequisites are for every single class on that worksheet so you can get all of those out of the way as early as possible. Use the suggested course plans as a guide to make a list of the classes you plan to take each semester all the way up to graduation. When you know what classes you need to take ahead of time, you can register early before they fill up. This is what I did and I had no issue with graduating on time. I knew which classes were required, and I didn’t end up with a bunch of extra credits that didn’t count towards my major. I didn’t even need to meet with a guidance counselor a single time. Not saying that you shouldn’t meet with a counselor, but I’ve heard it can be a pain to do so.

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If possible, I recommend taking some of your general education classes online. I’d try to take at least one online course a semester for your first two years or so, until you get into your upper division classes. Most of the material in these classes is the exact same stuff you were just taught in high school, so taking a few online can help free up your schedule a bit for the classes you may need more time to focus more on. Also, don’t push your basic required English, science and math classes off to the side in order to take the classes you think will be more fun. Take them right after high school while it’s all still fresh in your memory and they’ll be the easiest classes you’ve ever taken.

Try to make friends early on, especially in the classes specific to your major. You’re going to keep seeing the same people in your classes each semester and having some friends to talk to will make your life easier. Do assignments with classmates, attend events, and do your best to network with others. You’ve probably already been told this a hundred times, but you should take it seriously. I’ll admit that I was really bad about doing so, and I feel like I should have taken more advantage of those opportunities while I could. Plus, trying to find a job after graduation will be much more difficult if you didn’t make good connections with people during your college years.

I could go on and on with my best practices for the college experience, but I think these are some of the simplest things you can do that will make a considerable difference in the end. While you don’t need to waste your time and money by making poor choices in the name of having fun, you should savor the moment rather than rushing through it–because once you get your degree you’ll be wishing it didn’t fly by so quickly.