By Morgan Mitchell
Although four years ago it seemed like the day would never come, I just recently graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with two bachelor’s degrees: one in English and one in Library and Information Sciences. During my time at college, I learned a lot about my two chosen fields. In English classes, I gained the confidence to share my interpretation of texts, and I became a better writer and critical thinker by producing essay after essay. Meanwhile, the LIS courses introduced me to cataloging, reference interviews, readers’ advisory, collection development, and more. While these skills have been directly applicable to my everyday life as I intern at publishing companies and work at libraries, I also learned other valuable lessons that could not be found on the syllabus. I hope new and current college students alike can benefit from reading and applying these insights in their own lives.
1.Be active on campus: Make the most of your time at college! It might be tempting to hide out in the dorm all day—especially if you are an introvert like me—but you will have a way better experience if you are active in your campus community. Get involved with student organizations, take on a leadership role, go to sporting events, attend plays or music concerts, join a religious organization, volunteer your time. If you can find a group that does something you love, you’ll have a ready-made group of friends that have similar interests to your own. At the end of the day, college is not just about earning a degree. It’s a time where you can build friendships that last a lifetime, a time where you can experiment with different hobbies to find what speaks to you, a time where you can give back to the community that will become your home for four years.
2.Learn how to adult: Adulting refers to all the skills and knowledge you will need to survive on your own in the real world, from budgeting to changing a tire to cooking a meal. It could even mean having the ability to kill a bug. As a freshman in college, I was distressed to discover that a wasp had somehow made its way up three flights of stairs and through four locked doors to settle in my dorm room. Far from an adult at this point, I rushed downstairs to ask the desk assistant on duty if they could help me. They agreed to call a resident assistant since they couldn’t leave the desk unattended, so I gladly waited fifteen or twenty minutes on someone to do a job that I myself could have completed, had I been emotionally capable, in less than one minute. Fast forward four years, and I was a senior at college with a similar bug problem on my hands. I had just woken up and was walking to turn on the light when my foot brushed against something. I looked down in horror to see an overturned cockroach. By this time, I had told my parents the story of the wasp and they had lovingly gifted me a bottle of Raid, so I raced to the closet, retrieved the can, and sprayed the bug. I then proceeded to pace around the dorm room for thirty minutes as I gave myself a pep talk to psyche myself up for the moment when I would be forced to pick up the bug and dispose of him. It might have taken some time, but I think we can count it as a win.
3.You don’t need a lot of stuff: I packed a little bit at a time for weeks before I moved into a dorm for the first time because I didn’t want to forget anything that I might need while I was away from home. Once the semester started, however, it quickly became clear that I wasn’t in the dorm room often enough to appreciate all the extra stuff that I had brought with me. The material items just aren’t as important as the memories that you will make along the way. As such, in addition to the essentials like clothing and bathroom supplies, I would recommend limiting yourself to bringing one thing that makes you happy and leaving the rest of the clutter at home. For example, I brought my favorite books with me, and they were enough on their own to make the dorm feel like home.
4.Network with professionals: While networking might not seem like a fun or even necessary activity, you will be thankful to have the connections after you have graduated and are looking for a job. As the saying goes, it is not what you know, it’s who you know. If you have the same experience and education as someone else but the other person has previously worked at the company or knows someone who currently works there, they will have a better chance of being hired. It’s unfortunate that one’s skills and knowledge aren’t enough on their own anymore to secure a great job, but the fact is that the market has become saturated with highly qualified individuals and there has to be some way to differentiate them. Talk to your professors during their office hours. It is their job to help you, and they are happy to do it. Apply for internships. They can give you experience in the field and could even lead to jobs if you’re dependable and work hard. Use the resources that you have while you’re at college to make connections.
- Build up your resume: During your time at college, it is important to always look toward the future. Taking advantage of the countless opportunities for growth that are available to you is an easy way to build up your resume, which will in turn make you more marketable to employers. Consider applying for leadership roles in your favorite student organizations, or join honor societies that are relevant to your career. When you have these leadership roles, it gives you experience with solving problems and taking initiative, so you will be prepared to answer interview questions and to tackle these issues when they arise in the real world.
Edited by: Emily Stewart