You don't need us to tell you that starting college will set the stage for one of the most important transitions that you'll ever make. You may not have ever stopped to think, though, about the fact that college is essentially training for adulthood.
While earning your degree, you'll deal with temptations and muddle your way through complicated social situations, all while tackling a workload that only becomes more challenging as you go. Adult life is much the same in many ways, and the decisions that you make now will influence the rest of your life in ways that you can't even begin to comprehend yet.
It's your last summer vacation before college begins. You want to begin your university life with a clean slate and set yourself up for the best possible chance of success. If there is anything about your life that you want to change, now is the time to do it because making major life changes will only become more difficult as you get older. These are the 4 most profoundly life-altering changes that you can make right now for a great experience in college and beyond.
1. Leave Your Social Comfort Zone
If you're from a small town, you've been around much the same group of people for your entire life. You haven't needed to think about your role in most social situations for years because your role has remained largely static. If you attend a major university, though, you're going to replace your familiar circle of friends with potentially tens of thousands of strangers. If you're a naturally gregarious person who can approach anyone with ease, we envy you. If you're like most people, though, you're not going to find the transition to university life easy.
During your last summer vacation before college, practice unfamiliar social situations to get yourself more comfortable around strangers. Even something as simple as driving to a nearby city and making a few new friends can help to ensure that you have no trouble turning strangers into a reliable support network once college begins.
2. Quit Smoking
Did you start smoking while you were in middle school or high school? Don't waste your time feeling ashamed about your decision; there are millions of underage tobacco users in America. Some people have even accused the tobacco industry of using increasingly subtle marketing tactics to get young students hooked – and once you're addicted to nicotine, it's unlikely that you'll ever quit. When you're a young smoker, your tobacco use doesn't seem to affect your health at all. You can still run, jump and swim with the best of them. By the time you get older and realize that your cardiovascular capacity isn't what it used to be, it's too late; quitting is almost impossible at that point.
The time to stop smoking is now – while you still feel like you can quit any time you want. Online vape shops like Vapester have sprung up all over the world and specialize in providing simple-to-use vaping kits for people seeking alternative forms of nicotine. Switching to vaping also makes it easy to reduce your nicotine intake gradually until you no longer require it.
3. Improve Your Fitness
One of the greatest aspects of being a teenager is that you can get away with eating almost anything. You're still growing, and your body needs as much fuel as it can get to build new bone and muscle cells. By the time you start college, though, you'll be done growing – and your caloric requirements will drop significantly. According to recent statistics from the National Institutes of Health, about 23 percent of people aged 19 and younger are obese or extremely obese. The numbers for adults are even worse; more than 66 percent of American adults are overweight or obese.
No matter what your current physical state is, your odds of remaining fit as an adult are poor. They're even worse if you're already overweight – and one study suggests that you'll gain at least 2.7 pounds during your freshman year of college. Take the opportunity now to establish at least one new healthy habit. Begin a regimen of running, walking, biking or lifting weights. Reduce your intake of junk food. A couple of small changes made now – while you're young – will significantly improve your overall health later in life. Looking trim and fit when you start college will also give your self-image a major boost.
4. Sculpt Your Personal Brand
College isn't just about establishing the personal and social habits that will remain with you for the rest of your life; it's also about preparing for your future career. If you think that a degree alone will secure your ability to land your dream job after college, you are completely wrong. Great employers look for people who stand out. Having a degree helps your employment prospects, but a degree alone doesn't make you exceptional. Now is the time to begin thinking of yourself as a brand. Collect your experiences, curate a portfolio of your accomplishments and clean up your past online mistakes.
Let's discuss those three things in greater detail.
Collect Your Experiences
Throughout life, peer pressure compels us to conform and match societal norms. The risk in being overly conformist, though, is that you'll never build the kind of engaging personal narrative that's necessary if you want to stand out among a field of qualified applicants. When you consider your regrets later in life, you'll think about the things you didn't do. Now is the time for taking calculated risks, separating yourself from the pack and collecting experiences that make you truly unique.
Curate Your Portfolio
In the online world, reputation management is a key aspect of sculpting the public's perception about a brand. The more online real estate that you own, the more control you have over the story that people see when they search for your brand online. Every major company invests heavily in reputation management. Have you ever stopped to think, though, about how that technique can apply to your personal brand? Get your own domain. Start a blog or create a portfolio of your accomplishments. One day, a prospective employer will search for your name online. Make sure that you're the one telling the story.
Correct Your MistakesIf you use social media, you've spent much of your life up to this point building up an enormous digital footprint. One day, a potential employer will examine that footprint to determine whether you're a good fit. Have you ever said anything regrettable on Twitter or posted an embarrassing photo on Instagram? As many professional athletes learned in 2018, anything that you do online can potentially come back to haunt you many years later. Now is the time to ensure that your digital persona is something that you would want a future employer to see.