Some things in college slip through the cracks. Every college student knows that they're supposed to study, take tests, etc. But there's other things you can do in college to really boost your resume and ultimately look stellar compared to your peers. In the spirit of a new semester coming upon us, here's a few things you can do this semester to get a leg up:
1. Join clubs, teams, and other extra curricular activities.
If you join in on activities in other areas of your college, it's generally seen as a positive thing on resumes. It can include anything from hobbies to your major itself. Sports within colleges can even vary - some colleges have horseback riding teams, bowling, lacrosse, and other teams you wouldn't normally consider joining. On a resume, joining a club is seen as a way to be involved, and ultimately a future employer will want to see enthusiasm from someone they consider hiring.
2. Get a job there.
Getting a job at the college itself gives you more letters of recommendation, and more variety within those letters of recommendation. It's always good to get letters of recommendation from your professors, but from a former boss offers a different perspective. Your boss at the college chose to hire you and keep you working. Most often times, college jobs also offer flexibility with your classes, which are much different from regular jobs working a cash register. In addition, the people you're working for are often familiar with the college system, so they can also give you advice for a particular problem or direct you to someone.
Networking is a huge part of college, and nobody tells you to do it when you go to orientation. Keep the syllabi of your professors of the various classes you've taken, even if you think you might never see them again. You might decide to double major or minor and need more information, and it'd be a way to reconnect with someone who you already know and already might have made an impression on. Longevity of professional relationships is a positive thing, and facilitate it when you can in college. Networking in itself will lead to other opportunities as well, such as being hired.
4. Treat your professors with respect.
This really should be a no brainer, but it isn't for some people. It is perfectly understandable and normal to not get along with some professors at any college. But treating your professors with respect is necessary. Professors talk. Second, you might need that professor at some point - a letter of recommendation, an honors thesis, or they may be in charge of a program or office you might be needing the assistance of.
5. Apply for scholarships.
It's free money, why wouldn't you? Financial Aid isn't your only way of getting free money. Apply. Write the essay. You might also fit into a group of people that may have their own scholarship, as for example, there are scholarships solely for the disabled.
6. Apply for programs.
At my college, there's the Verrazano Honors program, among others. Even if you don't get in immediately after high school, for most programs you can still apply while you're in college. It's worth it, as these programs offer certain benefits, aside from another line on your resume.
7. Do research.
Doing research goes hand in hand with being respectful to your professors. You might want to do research with a professor who you had previously been disrespectful to. While they may not remember, you might be in for an awkward meeting regardless. You might feel embarrassed over your past behavior, and it will show. Certain professors focus on different research, and you might want to do research with a certain professor. If that professor doesn't focus on your area of interest, you may need to look elsewhere.
8. Buy older versions of textbooks if you can, and get them somewhere else.
Your college bookstore is probably overpriced and brand new textbooks. Ask your professors if you can use an older version of a textbook to make the expense lower. Buy or rent them from Amazon and Chegg if you think you'll never use them again.
9. Don't listen to other people.
That's great that your mom wants you to be a doctor, but if you don't want to be a doctor, she's not going to treat anyone. You are.
10. Major in what you like.
If you like English, major in English. If you like Psychology, major in Psychology. Of course Engineering will lead to a job afterward, but if you don't like building bridges or buildings you shouldn't be one. Whatever degree you get can be melded into a career, whether it be with a graduate degree or having contacts. Your enthusiasm for your degree will speak for itself, and you will be able to have certain skills other majors may not have. Don't torture yourself to get a job, because we all end up in the same place at the end through different avenues.
11. You don't need to meticulously plan.
I understand the tension, the pressure, and the need to get a job. I understand the weight of debt and the weight of being an adult after you get your diploma. I understand you were born and you immediately had a life plan as to how you'd become an astrophysicist working at NASA, but things change and so will you.
12. Enjoy yourself.
You will be drinking coffee at 5 AM with an 8 AM class looming. You will be finishing assignments when they're due in 4 hours. You will be sobbing while studying for a final. You will feel alone, and you will have a professor you hate. But, you will get the As, you will figure out your path, and you will make friends and pass the final. Enjoy yourself.
It'll be OK.