College is the ideal time to expand your horizons, try new things and understand how to be the best version of yourself. The US college experience offers some of the best resources you could ever wish for, but it can often be overwhelming, given the array of choices and only four years to check it all out. Whether you are a starry-eyed freshman ready to own college, or an upperclassman looking to make the most before you leave, ensure you make the most out of them.
Here’s a list of six under-utilised resources in college that you definitely don’t want to miss:
1) Academic advisors and professors:
Your academic advisor often is a professor who has spent years not only conducting research in their field but also guiding students like you through the college academic experience. They are there to help you stay on track and ensure you make the right choices, at the right times. Meet with your advisors in person at least once a semester to get your academic plans and progress verified.
Similarly, your professors are also incredibly accomplished in their respective fields and you’d be surprised by how much they have to offer. For example, one of my MIT professors is the CEO of Akamai–one of the biggest Internet content delivery companies. I had the opportunity to visit the company office and eat dinner with him. Make an effort to meet with your professors either during office hours or outside, whether it is to discuss material from class or just to hear incredible stories about their journey in academia. Connections with your professors can also come in handy in the future when you need a recommendation letter for a scholarship, competitive programme or graduate school. Additionally, many professors are connected with industry practitioners and may also be able to offer insights, guidance and suggestions on your future career plans.
2) Campus events and talks:
Colleges host many events and talks from accomplished individuals–from CEOs and world-famous researchers to artists and political activists–all of whom visit college campuses for various events. Understandably, you may have a busy schedule during the semester, but attending a couple of these events every now and then is a great way of breaking the monotony of regular classes. Not only will you learn something interesting, but you may also be able to forge key connections that will help you further down the road. For example, I attended a workshop held by Google during my sophomore year and exchanged contacts with a senior engineer at the company. Guess what? That engineer forwarded my resume to the company for a summer internship when I needed one!
3) Career services:
Often one of the most under-utilised resources in college, the career services office can help you with almost anything job-related. Want your resume critiqued for free? Go to them. Want a list of companies recruiting at your campus in your major? Go to them. Want to practice mock interviews? You guessed it right–go to them! Beyond that, the staff in career services usually have years of practical work experience and can, therefore, be a good sounding board for any future plans you are considering.
4) Free or discounted student services:
As a college student, you have it rough. All the assignments, deadlines, papers and projects are sometimes a bit too much to handle. But being in college comes with its perks too! Perhaps the best one is all the discounted services and access offered to you. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of such perks:
- Spotify/Apple Music half-price subscriptions
- Free or discounted access to most science and art museums
- Discounts on clothing purchases
- Discounts on MacBooks or PCs
- Student baggage allowances for flights
5) Athletics centre:
Development of the mind and body go together. A healthy, well-rested body not only leads to a calm mind, but also to improved concentration and endurance. I’m often surprised that most students never really take advantage of their college’s free athletics centre. Most are furnished with a high-end gym, pool and even ice-skating rinks. Go and get that workout and see your performance increase across the board.
6) Study abroad programmes:
Who wouldn’t love to travel the world? And what if I told you that you could do that for the same price that you are paying right now? Study abroad programmes are available at most colleges and provide exactly the same opportunity as your current college. You can choose from many destinations that offer study abroad programmes. This allows you to study at a different university in a new country and get academic credits toward your degree, all while being immersed in a unique culture. There are usually no extra fees for such programmes and your college might even cover round-trip flights.
To help you plan your time at college better, get in touch with The Red Pen.
Ayush Sharma is a guest blogger for The Red Pen and studied computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the founder and CEO of an early-stage startup that’s focused on stealth.