Kristi-Marie Weston recently graduated from Loyola University New Orleans with a BA in Economics and Marketing. She is originally from Trinidad and Tobago and has since temporarily returned to her country to work in project planning and public policy. Although New Orleans will always be dear to her heart, she also has fond memories studying abroad in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Kristi has a love for travel, having been to over 20 states in the U.S. and over 14 countries. Her favorite pastime is reading a good book while drinking a hot cup of tea.
My recent graduation from college was bittersweet; I was excited and hopeful about the future but nostalgic and emotional to close such a great chapter in my life. Overall, college provided me with a wealth of experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything. However for some people, it is always easier to appreciate things in hindsight.
To current and prospective college students, here are 5 things I encourage you to appreciate while you’re still in college. Take advantage of them; I sure did.
- Failing and having it be okay- College is one of the few places in life where it is okay to fail at something, and I don’t mean with grades. This is the place where you have the opportunity to turn your weaknesses into strengths without some of the repercussions you may encounter in the working world. If you’re not comfortable with public speaking, then give more presentations in class. If you’re not comfortable with working in a team, then participate in more group projects. In college you have the ability to learn by doing, and if you don’t do well then you can try again and again. Remember, practice makes perfect. By the time you graduate it is expected that you have already developed some of these soft skills. Appreciate the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and be able to leave college with a better chance at getting that dream job.
- Traveling with no strings attached- If travel is something you’re interested in and you don’t make it a priority, it will never happen. There is always something else you should do with your time and money. In college however, there are many ways you can travel at a cheaper price. Whether it be studying abroad, attending student conferences, or even visiting a friend at Thanksgiving, embrace the opportunity to travel before you’re tied down in a job.
- Living on campus- Most students dread living on campus and often feel stifled in the environment; however, there is a positive in every situation. Enjoy being able to live with friends. Not only do you have a constant support system but you also get to come home after long days and interact with like-minded people. Appreciate the good company and strengthen your friendships so that they last long after you graduate.
- Getting free training and advice- And I’m not talking about your classes. While you are a student there are so many people who are genuinely willing to help you, whether it be professors, career counselors, or professionals already established in their field. Go beyond the classroom experience. If your university hosts things like etiquette dinners, leadership seminars, development workshops, and mock networking sessions, GO TO THEM. These are the things that will help to set you apart in your job search later on and once you’re not a student anymore, these opportunities may be more difficult to find for free.
- Making your own schedule- In college it seems like there is so much to do and so little time, with classes, homework, extra-curricular activities, exercise, spending time with friends etc. Regardless, appreciate the flexibility you can create in your schedule. Plan your classes to suit the time of day you are most productive, choose activities that you truly enjoy, and don’t be ashamed to snag some time for that mid-afternoon nap!