College is NOT the best time of your life. Shocking, I know. While college can be fun, it is 10X more fun to have higher income, travel better and buy better quality… anything. To have and do these things an education usually helps. However, with the continue increase in higher education a lot of people are leaving college with huge debt and end up underemployed. Since this is the current trend and a degree is still required for almost all entry level jobs, maximizing the ROI of a college education starts freshman year.
Top 7 tips to squeeze everything out of your education.
1. Self-Assess and make a decision that is best for you.
You must take time to figure out where you want to go. This step would be ideal during Freshman year but who actually knows what you want to do forever at 18 years old? Maybe the doctor, lawyer crowd. It’s OK if you don’t know but be sure to think this through and make decisions because school is not cheap. Take some self-assessments that your school more than likely has available. Take a look at people on LinkedIn with titles that sound interesting or companies that resonate with you. Which brings me to point two.
2. LinkedIn can be a treasure trove of information.
If you are like most humans, you’re looking for a career that enriches your life. According to a gallup poll finding based on a random sample of 4,727 full and part-time U.S. worker from April to May 2020, the level of “meh” engagement was at 49%. That is too high to be “meh” about what you spend about 35% of your life doing. This is your time to ask a lot of questions and reach out as much as possible. You are a student trying to learn more about their career. You are not selling them anything or even asking for a job. Use this time to your advantage and don’t be afraid. Get a LinkedIn together, make sure it’s professional and hide all other social media (we’ll get to this point in a moment). Connect with anyone you can on LinkedIn that have the titles you want or work at companies you want to work for. Connect with everyone from entry level, middle management, or executive level. Keep brief and to the point. You may not get a ton of responses but when you do, the information is golden.
3. Pay close attention to your social media content.
Before I go into this point; be a good human, always, and this won’t be a big deal. However, if you are thinking, for you, college can be like the movie “Animal House” you are mistaken. If you don’t get the reference, don’t worry, your college experience won’t be anywhere near that crazy, I hope so. However, anything you get photographed doing or saying or what you post will be out in the world. Be sure to post things you can be proud of and not have to defend later in life. At the end of the day the best policy is to be a good human, treat others with respect, and don’t let anyone be distracted from what you have to offer because they may disagree with you. Before you post count to 10 and make sure it’s something no one can misunderstand your point of view.
4. GO TO CLASS & GET GOOD GRADES.
This is an obvious one, but it still needs to be said. Going to class every day is not only beneficial and necessary to get good grades but it builds good habits. Habits and consistency are what will make or break you as an adult. Not all the most capable people are CEO’s or Founders or just plain successful career people but the one’s that show up and are consistent in their work are the one’s that get ahead. There are literally thousands of books on being consistent and most include tips like “start with a habit that is small and easy to do” or some version of this. As a student your job is to go to class and pass. This should be non-negotiable because this will build discipline you need to succeed. I wish one time in my career as a Recruiter someone told me they went to class everyday (except when they were sick because going to school or work sick is just wrong but that is another article all together). They would have stood out in my mind and told me all I would want to know about their level of commitment and discipline. I would have hired that person on the spot! Grades are important because everyone you will be competing with for a job (who got good grades) will also put their G.P.A on their resume. Don’t let poor grades put you in the “NO” pile.
5. Take sales classes or join a sales society, even if you are not a business/sales major.
This tip, it’s my trademark tip. Sales rule the world. Whether we agree or not is irrelevant. Learning how to sell and when you are being sold is HUGE!!!! Sales classes talk about strategy a lot and provide avenues for students to be in uncomfortable situations. This is so important to build grit and strength to go for what you want. Having a sales mentality will provide you the guide on how to sell yourself and your skill set to future employers. If you are going into a career that is not sales having sales skills will allow you to see any business from a revenue perspective and a chance to show how you add value in a non-revenue role. Sales will also teach you how to overcome objections and be creative in the way you deliver your message. Trust me on this one.
6. Read at least 10 non-school books that interest you a year
We talked about building habits before and this one is in line with that one. Reading things, we enjoy outside of course work helps develop habits of reading that will help in your personal development while in college and beyond. Books opens doors to ideas, perspectives, insight that may be challenging to get otherwise. You can learn to cook or distract your mind from the minutia of everyday life for a couple of hours. Did you see what I did there? I used the word “minutia”, I learned it from a book. It means “trivial details of something”. You’re welcome! Books can help expand your vocabulary and from time to time win you trivia or extra points in class if you ever have one of those professors who give an A for the semester if someone knows a crazy word no one has ever hear. It could happen.
7. Get a job/internship!
Be strategic about the type of work you take during college. Working in the food service industry is a right of passage for many, it’s critical to think how you can translate skills to align with your career goals. Internships are a great way to get “real world experience” it’s usually a lot of busy work but you will more than likely learn their email software and do a lot of with the Microsoft suite or G-Suite. Those are transferable skills. You will get an opportunity to work on projects, observe work culture and develop your reputation for the future.
College is an incredible time in young person’s life. It’s a time of hard work and lots of fun rolled into one. It’s also a moment in time that cost a lot money. Make a note or sign you can read everyday and not lose sight of the goal.
These tips are some of the best ways to maximize your investment in higher education. Getting a degree is not a golden ticket but adding ingenuity, discipline and grit you create opportunity no matter what you decide to do. Good Luck!
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