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Thursday, April 25, 2013 |

Stop Chasing a Dream School! Work Now! Succed at Any College!

By now many students are fully aware which college they will attend this Fall. This is either a wonderful or dreadful time of year depending on individual circumstances.

Regardless of how one is feeling right now due to acceptance or rejection from a preferred school, life must go on. Now is the time to envision some of the important life goals that are achievable while attending college, whether it Harvard or the local state U.

How much will you accomplish before you graduate? The bare minimum will not be enough. Students need to maximize the quality of time spent outside the classroom towards meaningful activities, but there are many fun distractions while at college. Along the way many new friends are met, some of whom remain close for life while others are instantly forgettable. Then, suddenly you are dressed up for graduation and everyone is so proud for one day, but then what’s next?

 

 

WOOOOOOOOOO!

 

THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Except now, your college experience or lack of worthwhile experience will either help or hinder progress towards true independence.

Stop chasing a college dream and start working on yourself: If your long-term life strategy is predicated on your choice of college to either make you or break you, then you allow shortsighted vision to dominate your existence. Why? Probably because of the overwhelming pressure put on students to achieve near impossible feats for teenagers (let alone adults) to gain admission to elite institutions. What is rarely spoken of is failure, perseverance, and overcoming obstacles beyond those faced in a classroom because these challenges are not easily assessed a grade, and take a lifetime of work to pursue. Some students just need more time to demonstrate their ability and proficiency for successful living.

If you are a prospective college student and find yourself unhappy with the college choices available, stop beating yourself up and start looking for opportunities to improve your life. College remains an important stepping stone, but there are many developmental projects a young person can undertake to improve their life regardless of the prestige their institution offers. Get to work on improving yourself with some of these fundamentals….

 

 

Someone let this student know about the internet and e-books, please!

 

Read More: College has traditionally been the place where students maximize their intake of reading, but it’s noticed that more young people simply avoid reading all together. There are so many more impulsively gratifying activities available that make reading a dry and boring task by comparison. Instead, treat your reading like a habit for success. Demonstrate discipline by dedicating at least 30 minutes a day to reading something outside of what is required by school. Consider topics that are relevant to the world today, like economics, international relations, and business but also human interest topics like interpersonal communications, entertainment, and relationship advice. Just let your mind open up through reading 30 minutes a day and observe how you can connect ideas from inside and outside the classroom.

Learn more about technology: Today, young people take for granted the skills and knowledge they have with technology since they are part of a generation that has grown with constant advancements in computers, smart phones and tablets. Growing up around changing technology infused many with adaptability and the ability to quickly learn and apply a new gadget to productive (or non-productive but very fun) goals. Technology is the unique generational edge that young people have over their more mature counterparts with years of working experience, but often unrealized because within youthful social scenes it feels like everyone is “technologically savvy.” Just being familiar with Facebook advertising, smart-phone applications, and popular blog outlets puts you in a more knowledgeable position than many older adults that may now need to hire a young person for their expertise.

 

 

No more time to waste, get busy with self improvement

 

Diet and Exercise: Healthy living, nutritious food and exercise will never go out of style even long after graduation. Include healthy eating choices and an exercise plan as part of your personal goals, and watch as your energy to pursue an active life grows. The key is consistency. Adopting a workout plan is always easy to start, but hard to maintain as the weeks of the semester grind on. It’s up to you to hold yourself accountable to a schedule that makes sense. Avoid excuses like “I’m not an athlete” or “I don’t have time” by dedicating at least 60 minutes 3 or 4 times a week to exercise. It does not need to be in the gym, since playing basketball, running, biking and hiking are all vigorous substitutes. The simplest way to kick-start healthy eating is to wake up in the morning and eat breakfast! It’s surprising how often breakfast is skipped by college students since it is available and already paid for if using a meal plan. Eating a healthy breakfast can kick-start the metabolic rate in the morning, and reduce sudden urge to binge eat for lunch and dinner due to an empty stomach.

 

 

Meet your first boss!

 

Work while in school: The mantra used to be “Go to college and get a good job” but those days are in the past like reliable lifetime employment and defined benefit pensions. The only way to compete is by going above and beyond the challenges of the classroom to be ready for the world after graduation. Today, the pressure is on students to start producing at an early age, and this usually begins at an internship or entry level job. There are many angles of advice for work while in college. Some advise avoiding certain jobs to prevent being pigeonholed on a resume, like always working retail for example. However, the simple act of being on time, working with a team, and getting things done is the essence of a productive job, and any job worth doing is worth doing well. So give work your best shot, whatever form it makes it self available. If you are worried that employment could hurt financial aid eligibility due to income, read this article to get the facts straight. Income earned in the students name can hurt financial aid eligibility, but it probably needs to be over $6,000 for the year before it can really reduce any grants. Bottom line is, go and work to earn income and real world perspective outside the classroom. Ideally, where you work blends well with the major being pursued and offers opportunities to identify learning moments from the job as well as the classroom.

Stick with the fundamentals. Expand your mind, stay healthy and active, and get to work. Your time in college is temporary, but the habits developed there can last a lifetime.

***

Ken O’Connor is a financial aid expert and the director of student advocacy at cuStudentLoans.org. Learn more about credit union private student loans and college planning by visiting his blog.

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