5 Things You Should Learn At Your College Orientation

When I first began my college experience, listening to the university president welcome us, I didn’t have the slightest idea what I wanted from college or what I desired out of my life. Now that it’s over, I find myself in a similar position, but with a few more well defined life goals. However, there are some key insights I wish I had received at my orientation. I feel an obligation to pass on this advice to current and future college students to hopefully amplify their experience.
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1. Talk to ALL your professors, they are smart!

When you start your first “big-kid” job, employers continue to harp on the importance of networking and meeting influential people. In college usually the most influential individual in a class is your professor; try striking up a conversation. Many times it could just be a one-time effort that leads to some awkward small talk. However, you could get lucky and have a meaningful discussion. This discussion could be the beginning of mentorship, which we all need in life. Mentors can lend support to you during times of stress and indecision. They can give you career advice, regardless of whether you take it or not. All of these critical life tools can come from having a simple conversation about anything. The key is to learn how to engage with the influential individuals around you.

2. Regardless of the major, taking a general business class can help with grown-up life.

Throughout school, we are all required to take English and math until we achieve a certain level of proficiency. English, to effectively communicate and math to learn addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication. Additionally, college students are exposed to certain sciences to gain an appreciation for the complexity of the world around us. Why wouldn’t you add a general business course to educate yourself about phenomena that you experience daily? Business basics would help expose the mechanisms retailers use to entice customers to spend their money, the importance of paying bills, the usefulness of human resources, and taxes. Additionally, business classes can even teach you how to secure your future with a 401k retirement plan. I know it doesn’t provide an explanation for the universe, but it allows students to discover the universe of business. A universe that will exist wherever they choose to work in one form or another. All industries from art to medicine use business concepts, so one course might not be a bad idea.

3. Take classes outside your comfort level, you never know!

Too many times in college, students choose a major because of high grades in previous courses or the subject material comes naturally. However, even if you always dreamed of being a chemist, and chemistry comes easily, you aren’t confined to courses related to your major. If you really want to learn about yourself, both personally and academically, take a course outside your comfort level! The chance to try unexpected courses helps you to grow as a person and receive a diverse or well-rounded education. This liberal arts approach is crucial to a wholesome college experience, because the world doesn’t revolve around the skills learned in a single major. The ability to understand the diversity of the workplace through taking unique coursework enhances a student’s ability to be competitive.

4. Get involved in at least one extracurricular activity!

All students are able to attend orientation for student clubs and organizations their first day on campus. There are organizations that range from rock climbing club, Greek life, and student government expressing reason why you should get involved. As a freshman, you may not recognize the advantage to getting involved or you may not care, you may even put it off and never actually get around to it. However, the standard amount of time spent in college is 4 to 5 years and that goes by in the blink of an eye. Involvement in a sport, student government, Greek life, or rock climbing club can teach the invaluable lesson of teamwork. The “real world” is full of teams and learning how to work in a team successfully is instrumental to success. When you think of common jobs, nothing can be done singularly, from being a businessman, medical professional, or even a writer. All of these require respective processes to provide a final good or service, which interlinks different people to form a team.

This is why a common question in many job interviews is “How do you work in a team?” Everyone in any role needs to be able to work with others to complete assignments and work tasks. The experience of getting involved in college exposes you to a team environment and makes you grow as an individual to see how you fit in a team. At the worst, getting involved can finally give you an answer to those pesky interview questions.

5. Find a passion, not a job.

The world is continuously changing. Nowadays everything is accessible on a cell phone, but if you asked someone in the 1980s about their mobile device, you might get a strange response. In the 1970s, no one could have ever predicted the high volume of students now going to college for IT management. However, even though the world and majors offered in college have changed, the underlying idea of a college experience still exists. That idea being: imagine what could be, instead of what already has been. This idea has stimulated progress in the world and will continue to if students find a passion to motivate them into the future. Whether that be a creating a work of art to display in a gallery, starting a new business, or developing a cure to a disease, all of these endeavors require passion to become reality.

Celebrities, CEOs, and influential leaders throughout the world echo this theme. Their speeches rarely examine the influence of money or a specific job title. They focus on the passion they have in a subject, field or idea and how they thought about what it could become. When I look back on my college orientation a missing message would have to be to worry less about a specific job that already exists, enjoy the ride, and to invest time in finding a passion and continual wonder for what it could lead to. TC mark

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