Back to College FAQs
Being back on campus comes with a flood of new opportunities, but sometimes all the interesting organizations, new responsibilities, and intense expectations are overwhelming to navigate. We waded through the worst and found the best answers to common questions and concerns of college students.
Is there a certain number of clubs or organizations I should join?
Often students will spread themselves too thin by attempting to sign up for as many clubs as possible. In reality, becoming active in only one or two organizations will allow you to immerse yourself in what they have to offer, as well as set you up for future leadership positions.
Many colleges have a fair in the fall where you can learn about all of the recognized clubs on campus, and you can also ask to attend meetings before officially joining. Sampling can help you ensure that the club’s focus, interests, and members are the right fit for your time and energy.
How can I balance my full course load with a job or internship?
Working during the school year can be tough, but you will be able to acquire transferable skills and a clearer understanding of your career aspirations with some field work. Many colleges and universities have partnerships with local businesses, which you can utilize to discover internship opportunities that relate to your major.
Commit to one semester at a time, and work your way up from a minimum number of hours if possible. Planning ahead will help you prioritize your work and study time; many students “stack” courses during registration, so that all classes are scheduled for just two or three days of the week. This leaves larger availability for working hours on the days off from class. Before your first day on the job, you should ensure that you have reflected on how to make the most of your internship.
If you find yourself falling short of your responsibilities, be honest about your concerns as early as possible. Ask your employer about reducing hours temporarily, and talk to professors if you feel you are struggling in their class. Family and friends may also give you a valuable support and advice restructuring your plans.
Are there other secrets for getting “real world” experience?
Some freshman prefer to get acclimated on campus before beginning an internship. If this is your plan, you should still aim to identify and network with professors and students doing interesting work. Go out for coffee and ask lots of questions. Sit in on meetings for clubs or even your academic department if you’re allowed to do so. Every chance you have to interview for a job or internship placement will help you strengthen your confidence and communication expertise before graduation.
How often am I supposed to meet with my adviser?
There is usually no set requirement for meeting with your academic adviser, unless you are on academic probation. Scheduling an appointment every two to three weeks throughout the semester will give you the opportunity to discuss progress on your degree pathway, identify research and internship options, and learn about the student support sources your campus offers. Advisers are available in person but are often happy to address quick questions through email.
Are there ways to use social media productively?
Beyond having fun and connecting with classmates, you can begin to build your professional network through social media. Sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and about.me can be used to showcase your budding portfolio and stay in touch with peers, professors, and coworkers. Whether or not you choose to network with friends only or future colleagues, remember to be thoughtful, be kind, and be upstanding online. Even when your feeds are private, any snap or Instagram image can be screenshotted and made instantly public.
I’m more of a visual person. Can you give me something in listicle format?
Fine. Here’s Buzzfeed’s Ultimate College Life Optimization Guide.