Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Six Things You Should Do in College

Lately we've been hearing a lot of questions about the benefits of college in general and, more specifically, the benefit of attending a more-expensive, selective college over a less-expensive, less-selective college.  Evidence for the benefits of a college degree remains strong, but pundits are beginning to challenge the benefits of struggling to get into the biggest name school.  Evidence is mounting that what you do while in college matters more than which college you attend.

A new Gallup poll released this summer suggests that there are six choice students can make while in college that will make a difference in their Great Jobs Great Lives index.  The poll looked at five elements of well-being for 29,000 recent graduates:  social support, financial stability, physical health, sense of purpose and sense of community.  One interesting finding?  That students scored higher on the index when they had made these choices in college:
  1. Do an internship or hold a summer job in your field of study.
  2. Get deeply involved in an extracurricular activity.  (As opposed to shallowly involved in many activities.)
  3. Do a long-term academic project - one that takes more than a semester.  It can be for a particular class, a senior thesis project, or an independent research project.
  4. Find a professor that makes you excited about learning.  It doesn't have to be in your major.
  5. Choose, as your professors, instructors who care about students as people.
  6. Find a mentor.  This doesn't have to be someone associated with the university.
Doing these things was more important to the quality of graduates' well-being than their majors or which colleges they attended.  As you travel off to college this fall, keep these six things in mind, and look for opportunities to do them.

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