Those four precious, tumultuous years of college make up your transition from teenager to 20-something with lots of chaos and learning in between. Although you are primarily there for a degree that will aid you in what you think will be your future career, there are many other crucial experiences in college that will help you grow up just a little bit more. It’s that time of your life where (if you’re lucky enough to not live at home and commute) you get to be on your own and but still not worry about “real world” problems, like a 9-to-5 job and an overt amount of bills. Cherish it and live it up, because the time passes all too quickly. Here are some top ten suggestions for what you should do before leaving college (of course, take each with a grain of salt—and maybe some tequila. Wink, wink!)
- Study abroad. Duh. When else are you going to have the opportunity to travel sans family and most responsibilities? This is the perfect time for you to explore the world and live in another country for a short amount of time. You’re old enough to appreciate all of the cultural aspects, but young enough to live it up and get away with experiencing the nightlife or crazy things likes cliff diving or bungee jumping. Get off campus and out into the world. It will be the time of your life.
- Get on the Dean’s List at least one semester. Even if you’re on scholarship, you’re still paying an absurd mount of money to receive an education. If you’re spending that much of your time and money to get a degree, then do it right. Especially since this economy sucks and you’re not even guaranteed a job upon graduation, it’s more crucial than ever to at least arm your transcript with decent grades and a healthy amount of extracurricular activities and achievements. Work hard and make yourself proud.
- Take an interesting course (or two, or three)…. Go outside your comfort zone and challenge yourself by taking a class on a subject with which you are unfamiliar. Electrical engineer? Take a poetry class. Quiet English major? Try Latin Dancing 101. Calligraphy, painting, music, theater—spice up your course load. You may just fall in love with a new activity.
- Pull an all-nighter. It’s like a rite of passage for college students. Arm yourself with coffee, Red Bull, Gatorade, and the most sugary processed treat the vending machine has to offer. Even if you’re the most scheduled, type-A, organized person ever, choose at least one time to devote yourself to studying/writing a paper all night, especially with friends. You’ll learn that you’re capable of literally working to the bone for hours and any other subsequent assignments will be pieces of cake for the rest of college (mostly).
- Have a true “spring break”. Go to Florida or the DR or anywhere else where all you need is a bikini, sunglasses, and alcohol for the entire week. Or go on a service break trip and help children in third-world countries. Just use that precious week off from school to have fun, whether it’s by doing keg stands with strangers or teaching little kids how to read. (Hopefully the latter, but the choice is yours—no judgment!)
- Party like it’s 1999, or 2012, or any other year that predates a supposed apocalypse. Even if you’re the most straightedge person, at least once in your college career go out and partake in typical collegiate recreational activities. Dance in the dirty basement of a frat house waving a red solo cup. Take shots at the local dive bar your friends dragged you out to. Just don’t be stupid, go out with people you trust, and take advantage of this precious time where you can party on a Thursday and snooze it up Fridays with no real responsibilities (unlike the real world, where your ass would probably be fired for not showing up on a Friday).
- Date. (Only if you somehow haven’t managed to stay with your high school sweetheart, of course). Set your standards high, don’t let anyone force you into doing anything with which you’re uncomfortable, and go with your instincts. But this is your time to experiment with and learn about love! Learn what it’s like to get your heart broken or to break someone’s heart. Learn what works in a relationship and what doesn’t. Just take each dating experience as lightly as possible and enjoy yourself.
- Find a professor that becomes a mentor/friend. A valuable resource that will extend beyond your undergraduate years. This relationship will give you access and guidance that no amount of tuition could pay in the classroom. I don’t mean in the unethical hopes that they’ll make your grade a guaranteed A; just that this professor will help you greatly along your career path.
- Do the walk of shame. Whether it’s because you spent all night in the library or in the cute guy’s dorm room, strut your stale, bleary-eyed self in broad daylight across campus proudly like a Bauce..
10. Graduate. Remember, in college, YOGO (You Only Go Once). Most important: earn what you came for and finish what you started.