As students head off to college for their freshman year, there is/will be a mass of advice coming from all angles -- how to manage your money, how to select your courses, how to survive a roommate, how to deal with being away from home, how to manage your time, and on and on about how to "survive" college.
There is some is some valuable advice that is not always included as to how to make your carefully chosen college a successful venture. These few suggestions are ones that I have witnessed that have enabled other students to have happy and successful college experiences. These are not listed in any order of importance, since they are all important:
Regardless of whether you are at a "large" university or a "small" school, the best way to become integrated into a community, make associations, and feel committed is by becoming a part of something that interests you. Join whatever group you might have a passion for, or one that you would like to learn more about. (Please note, though fraternities and sororities may provide a source of social belonging, they are generally "social" and may not necessarily provide a link for you to specific interests or talents).
GET TO KNOW ONE FACULTY MEMBER WELL
A second recommendation, almost a "requirement" or "assignment", that I would make to you, is that each semester you get to know one faculty member well, and likewise, he or she you. This will take an effort on your part, but I promise that it is one that will pay more dividends than anything else you do in your four years. Though there may be some professors who do not reciprocate, you will find that most faculty members are eager for the relationships that develop with their students. It is one of the great rewards of teaching; so give the faculty the opportunity to share your educational experience. In order for this to happen you will most likely have to make an appointment to go to the faculty member's office; you may also want to invite him or her for a coffee or to a sporting event. These “profs” love being a part of their institutions and will eagerly share that with you. Do it! These will be people who not only will be mentors but will be friends, and possible writers of recommendations.
PARTICIPATE IN SOME SORT OF VOLUNTEER, INTERNSHIP, OR COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION THAT WILL GIVE YOU "RESUME" EXPERIENCE
Third you should participate in some sort of volunteer, internships, or community activity that will give you useful “experience” that could be transferable to a job or career. Those students in business, engineering, or other "pre-professional" programs may have a built-in advantage here, but there are also many who believe that a liberal arts degree is the best preparation for one's future career or profession. You will find businesses, medical schools, law schools, etc. stating that they are more eager to enroll students who have not specialized too much. What employers and graduate schools like to see along with a sound education is experience, regardless of whether you were pre-professional or liberal arts. If you pursue opportunities to share or develop talents by participating in campus life, you will gain the invaluable experience that will help you land employment or acceptance into grad school (very important four years from now!). This experience may very well help direct the later part of your educational experience in college -- foreign study, research, self-designed major, internships, etc.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PROGRAMS, SPEAKERS, CONCERTS, PLAYS, ETC. THAT ARE OFFERED ON CAMPUS AND ELSEWHERE
These opportunities add a richness to the academic experience that is invaluable to making your college "education" much more than just the classes you take by providing a cultural enrichment not generally available to the public.
So there it is, my advice – INVOLVEMENT, FACULTY FRIENDSHIP, EXPERIENCE, AND ENRICHMENT. Not much to remember, but these few things will enhance your collegiate experience well beyond what you would get from four years just going to class. Best wishes for a great year!