College life hacks

Stefan is a medical student from the Netherlands. Right now he combines his last intership years with a PhD track. Besides that he writes about living a successful college life at

Going into college is one of the best experiences you can get. The world is at your feet, you will have a ton of time (and therefore responsibility). How to deal with all of this? Well, some people have experienced this before you, so you don’t have to find it all out yourself.

What you need to do in your first year is to find out how you work, what triggers you and how you function best. This means saying yes a lot, feeling overwhelmed and recovering from all that (you will). What do you need to figure out? Well, three different fields. First of all, you need to find out what the best way of studying for yourself is. Do you learn best from listening to a professor talking about the subject? Try it out by going to the lectures. Are you more of a book learner? Try it out in the library. Or do you learn by doing? Find some sample problems or projects related to your field and try!

Keep this up for at least half a year. Try every method and see what feels best for you and what works best for you. Testing different ways of studying is a great way to start studying smarter, instead of harder. There are tons of different college blogs who can help you with new techniques, who will explain them to you in the most clearest way.

Second you need to find out how much time you want to focus on your school work only. In college you have a bunch of different opportunities everywhere to pick up committee work, volunteering and developing your skills in the real world. You should try this out while in college because people allow students to make mistakes. Heading out in the real world, working on different projects and making mistakes is a great way to learn, you will learn by doing. Besides that you will have some work to show after you graduated – you can show what skills you developed, aside from your mental capacities.

Third, and probably most important, you need to find out what kind of work you like. I purposely try to dodge the term ‘passion’, because that makes it so loaded. But find out what kind of work you like. You need to figure out what you don’t mind doing for a couple of years in a row and college is the perfect way to find this out. Pick up different classes; work both with your mind and with your hands. Try to find different people to work with, see who or what is working for you.

And how to do all of this? By saying ‘yes’ a lot. Do the work. Meet new people and make new friends. Dealing with college life is overwhelming, is time consuming and can take up a lot of energy. But it is worth it. By doing all that work, enjoying all those new relations and by figuring yourself out you will enjoy your time and you will make it worthwhile.

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