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Vlad

@Vlad

How could students get more from college?

This might be outdated, and I don't know if I agree with all of the points today. I wrote this guide for my sister in 2016, when she was getting ready for college (hence the direct tone), and might still be useful.

How could students get more from college?
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    1. Networking. Your diploma is not good enough to get you a job.

    50% of the unemployed people in the US have a college degree. Even having good grades isn't enough. I finished Grad school with a 3.8 GPA, and after six months of frustrated searching, became a security guard - a job that required a GED.  When building a network, think quality, then quantity. Do this by adding value to others (remember, people are selfish), and eventually a real bond is formed. Be helpful to the people worth helping.

    2. Internships (+networking).

    It's a great way to get exposure to fields, companies and jobs without committing to them, and potentially making a good enough impression to return as an employee. Even if you have to work part time to support your internship, it's worth it. Treat the internship as a networking opportunity. Ask to get coffee with each executive and department head, you'll make an extraordinary impression.

    3. Be in Theater. Even if you don't care about the arts, comfort in front of an audience will be critical in life.

    When I was in my last semester of undergrad, I somehow wound up doing a school play - the Last Days of Judas Iscariot. I had a very minor role, with just a three minute monologue in a three hour play. Months of rehearsal time, hundreds of hours and many sacrificed nights and weekends, all for 3 minutes of monologue. Was it a waste? The week after the show, I had to present my senior thesis to a class. The topic was boring. Having just spent a week performing in front of hundreds of people, speaking to a class of a dozen was easy. My confidence and my polished stage presence made for the best presentation of not just the group, but that the professor had ever seen (his words, in a recommendation letter that he would go on to write for me). I still rely on those lessons when speaking publicly.

    4. Get a hobby. This is your refuge for when the world around you is on fire.

    It's your safe place. Something to disconnect the mind. How? Think of what excites you about life, and search for terms like, “hobbies for people who like X (socializing, public speaking, gaming, singing in the shower, googling, etc).” Alternatively, you can think back to your childhood, and what you did to pass time then. Try picking up on that, even if it was something silly. Then have your friend Google fill in the blanks, “Hobbies for people who like space” – because I wanted to be an astronaut growing up. It's also a great networking opportunity.

    5. Do your homework. Learn about the people in your school that could benefit your future.

    Use that as the standard for taking classes, not which ones are easy A's. Remember, the connections you build with those people are way more important than the grades. The right Professors can be very well connected in the professional world, so make them a part of your network of relationships. A success hack: befriend people that are older than you. They will see their younger selves in you, and will fight to help you succeed.

    6. Make friends with your professors.

    When they say something that resonates, or that you want to know more about, stay after class and tell them. Thank them. They will appreciate this -- so much. More than anything else, people want to be appreciated for their hard work. I learned this lesson back in High School, with a teacher that I always spoke to after class. I also never did homework in that class. At the end of the first marking period, I was called to the teacher’s desk, and told that I was failing. The grade book had a 55 written in pencil next to my name. Everyone else's grades were written in pen. For that report card, I would end up receiving an 85, based solely on the relationship that I built with the teacher, the 55 was just a friend sending another friend a message. Is this fair? No. But the world doesn't function on fairness, and the sooner you learn that, the better off you will be in life.

    7. Life does not begin or end with college. Believing that college should be your crazy years because the fun ends after graduation is bullshit.

    By living with that mindset, you are sentencing your life to misery after you graduate - spending the next 60 to 80 years after graduation in the shadow of "the best years of your life." Trust me, life after college will be as fulfilling and exciting as you make it. And to guarantee that...

    8. DO NOT TAKE ON ANY CREDIT CARD DEBT.

    It will enslave you to an awful, soul sucking job just to make minimum payments after graduation. This is the single biggest limiting factor of your future dreams.

    Pro tip: always buy the most used textbooks you can find. If you're lucky, like I have been, you get a book with a ton of amazing notes in the margins - I once cruised through an ethics class on those notes alone.

    9. Join a study group.

    "The single best predictor of college success had nothing to do with any metric we associate with collegiate achievement, now or then. It wasn’t GPA, SAT scores, or a number of any kind for that matter. It was, instead, the ability of a student to create or to join a study group. Kids who studied in groups, even only once a week, were more engaged in their studies, were better prepared for class and learned significantly more than students who worked on their own. They even had more fun. Nothing else even remotely approached the power of that single variable in explaining college success. The key to college success is also the key to professional success of just about any kind. Learning is best achieved through relationships—having the right conversations with the right people in the right context—and collaborative action." - Keith Ferrazi

    10. Use your calendar Johnny! Use it to schedule paper due dates, to designate blocks for work, study and social time.

    Do this as soon as the syllabus is passed out. I'll never forget my very first semester of college, 6 weeks into my Freshman Orientation class. To this day I hear my professor’s voice, "pass your papers up!" Wait, what? What paper? …I promised myself to never make that mistake again. Until I did one month later, in the same exact class. It would take another seven years for me to admit that my memory sucks, and I have a much more effective brain inside of my phone.

    11. Lists. Every Sunday night (or pick a day, any day), start a list of things to do that week.

    You can use index cards, notebooks, any host of apps (I use Evernote and Todoist). It could be as simple as three check boxes to make coffee dates for networking, or reminders to research and do homework. You can include fun goals too. Make sure that the items are realistic and doable, and always check them off. It's the most gratifying feeling in the world.

    12. Make your bed every single morning.

    It's a brain hack to start your day with a winning mindset. A small win in the morning will ripple throughout the day. Today, even in Hotel rooms, I make my bed every single morning. Here’s a Navy Admiral (former Seal) telling you why:

    13. And remember - question everything.

    Everyone has an agenda, especially your professors and classmates. Rarely does it revolve around your wellbeing. Question everything, everyone, even your own motives. Are they really yours? "Don't believe everything you think."

    14. Don't join a cause.

    Not political, not social, not environmental. Doing Good doesn't always Do Good. Mother Teresa hugged and comforted thousands of people who went on to die from starvation and malnutrition. Bill Gates wrote one check and wiped out malaria for hundreds of thousands of people. Being effectively altruistic requires you to help yourself first. Joining a cause in or after college is the fastest way to become an ineffective cog in a very large machine. It's procrastination with a feel-good ribbon attached. But if you focus your life on helping yourself first, you'll be able to help many more people later.

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