Whether you are in a university, college or technical institute, your stay in campus is a strategic phase of your life that could have a great impact on who you become and what you do later on.
Here are 13 important steps to take in order to get the most out of your years in school.
1. Have All-Round Goals
One of the best ways to improve your life with a goal-setting approach is to have goals for different aspects of your life. At the beginning of your stay in school, write out clearly what you desire to have achieved at the end of your stay, spiritually, financially, academically and so on. It helps you to have a balanced approach to advancing your life.
One other benefit is that if by any means any of these aspects of your life stalls, you will still be making progress along the other lanes.
After having goals in broad areas, you can break them down into tiny bits and shorter time frames so it becomes easier to achieve and evaluate. For instance, if I have a self-development goal to be an effective leader after campus, one of my shorter goals may be to read a book on leadership every session or take up a leadership position every session.
2. Attend Lectures
Arguably, your most crucial point in college is the class. You went to school to learn – to be educated. And all that begins in the class. That makes it important not to skip classes.
Even if you could study all by yourself and grasp all the knowledge you need; to get good grades, you’d need to decode your lecturer’s personality, style and subject preferences. That’s because getting good grades and acing exams, is not only about knowledge. You need to figure out the professor’s ways too. And you can’t stay out of class and uncover that.
If you must skip classes, let it be out of utter necessity or after you have carefully contrasted the consequences and benefits of attending a class with skipping it.
3. Build Your CGPA Early
Don’t take your first two years for granted. That is the best time to build a formidable CGPA. This is so because, in the first year, most of what you’ll do may still be close to what you did in high school. So, with determined efforts, you could be coasting home with straight As.
Also, second year is usually when you get introduced to the basics of your profession. While you may feel the heat of the switch, that will still be the easiest of your climb in your discipline. Remember, the higher you go, the tougher it gets. Marks may become more difficult to come by as you go higher. So the sophomore year would relatively be the easiest.
Meanwhile, don’t rush into commitments in your first semester (or even entire first year). One or two may be okay but it’s best to use the time to understand the terrain. Many groups and activities may be enticing but use that early period to observe what works in the school and what or where is best suited for you and your goals.
4. Get Experience and Build Capacity
By the time you graduate and start job hunting, you will realize that the key things employers look for are competency, skills, capacity and experience.
Experience is what you get when you volunteer, occupy a leadership post, start a group or a venture, or render service in a particular capacity or circumstance. So don’t shy away from service and roles. They give you valuable experience. And while you get them, take note of them. So you have accurate details when you need them for your CV. That said, do not bite more than you can chew at a time.
Also, as much as you can, get competent in the things you have natural abilities for. You do this by getting more exposure and activity along those lines.
In the same vein, endeavour to master skills that are presented to you in the course of your academic work and those that come by virtue of your other involvements. For instance, using power point is something you will come across for presentations. Learn it, use it and master it. Do the same for others too. Again, note all of these for later use where necessary in your CV.
Capacity is what you build by being deliberate about yourself. You get it by being intentional about your life. It is also the virtue and attitude you imbibe as you grow in experience, skills and competence.
In reality, the capacity you have built and the experience you have gained is what you actually need in relating and working with people in real life so investing along those lines while in school, will always be an edge.
5. Learn a Skill
I refer to skill here in a more deliberate sense. Take some time to reflect on your abilities and the economic opportunities you have seen in the society and find a skill that can be used as both an impact tool and a moneymaking venture.
Nowadays, a single stream of income does not cut it. Besides, getting a job may not come as fast as you think. So, identify some of these skills (for instance, graphics design, programming), learn one or two and if possible, begin to make money with it, right there on campus.
6. Plan for Life After College
Don’t fall for the scam that there is time. There is no time.
As you go through college, begin to think ahead. Begin to consider certain matters carefully. For instance, whether you’ll marry or not, if yes, who that will be; where you would live and settle; whether you’ll work for someone or not, whether to go for postgraduate or not and some other critical issues.
You may not have all the answers before you leave college. But at least, you should have an idea of what you want to do immediately after college – and possibly 5 years down the line.
7. Take Care of Your Health
A good state of health is your ticket to whatever accomplishment you want to make in life. Sick people don’t work and dead people don’t toil. Understand how your body works and treat it accordingly. Take a lot of water. Take a break when you need to. Catch some rest when you need to and often refresh yourself with a shower.
8. Manage Time Wisely
One of the biggest challenges of a student is time management. The reality is more daunting, if one is a busy student. You must learn how to use your time judiciously.
The first key of managing time is realizing that every second counts; every minute is important and a lot can be done in one hour. Once you have this mentality, you will begin to get creative and wiser as to the use of time.
Having schedules and sticking to them can help to guide your use of time. Our churches and organizations have days and time of doing things, why shouldn’t we at our personal levels?
Having principles too is important in time management. That is, the things you do (or can do) and things you don’t do (or won’t do). Many youths flow with the tide but you must be able to define this.
It is important to use time well, because apart from our health, time is the other resource we have, within which we can make something out of life.
9. Find Your Life’s Purpose
As a young folk, you’ll find yourself drawn to a couple of things. But the truth is, you can’t do or be everything. Even if you can, you’ll need to find the central rallying point for all of them. In other words, you’ll need to discover your life’s purpose. And the best time to figure this out is in college, so that when you come out, you won’t be lost in the crowd. You’ll know who you are, what you stand for and what you are meant to do.
There are several ways to discover this, but that is not the focus of this article. However, two basic things to do are to diligently pray about it, and make deep reflections. I believe we were created by God. And only a manufacturer can satisfactorily tell you what his product is meant for.
Meanwhile, of all the things that draw your interest, ask yourself, what cause am I most passionate about. That is likely the overarching direction of your life.
10. Manage Relationships
You can’t do without people. But you must learn how to manage your relationships. Cut off from relationships that aren’t adding value to you. The truth is, if you aren’t benefitting, you are probably losing. Now, to benefit, doesn’t only mean receiving something but even if you are also not able to add to the other party, it’s a waste of time. And time is of the essence.
Before you think of entering a love relationship, with the hope of marriage, make sure, you have a plan for the relationship. Relationship requires time commitment. So, it is not advisable to get into one, when both of you would only be giving away time with no serious intentions or direction. Be sure you can get married within 3 to 4 years of that time at most.
If in your third year in the university, you enter into a relationship, yet you don’t see yourself getting married in 4 years, you’d be wasting away your time and that of the other person in that relationship. That’s precious time that could be diverted to achieving other things.
11. Learn to Plan and Be Orderly
When I was in school, my room and entire stuff were so systematically arranged, that I could, on phone (and even via a message), direct a total stranger to where anything was. And the person would find it! If you have not achieved that, you probably still have some work to do.
Being orderly, saves you precious time when searching for things and it means people can help you out at times. One basic key of orderliness, is keeping things where they were originally, after using them.
Likewise, you need to be a pal to planning. Hardly can we get anything done, if we don’t plan. You must plan each day, a night before (or early that morning). As much as you can, prepare yourself and what you’ll need the next day, before you sleep. Do not wake up in the morning and start hurrying to polish shoes and sort out books!
12. Watch Your Finances
Money can be a distressing problem for many a student. To find your way around it, you need to imbibe a couple of things. Learn to budget and stick to it. Try also to get multiple streams of income. As much as you can, don’t borrow. Ask people to give you, instead of lending you.
13. Be a Master to Sleep
Great people are those who have learnt to master sleep. Have a time you go to bed and when you wake up. Know how long you sleep in a day. Try to stick to these. That’s discipline. Although there may be times, you won’t be able to abide. It’s okay. Sometimes too, when you are stressed out and need to really give yourself some rest, please do.
The ball is now in your court. Do these things and see how well they will reward you.
Ogaga Eruteya is a Nigerian Christian minister, writer and speaker. He writes on Faith, Personal Development, Youth Development, and Life Realities. With his words, he seeks to inspire, motivate, propagate life’s truths and represent a sincere Christian voice. Learn more about Ogaga here.