12 Tips to Enhance Your College Experience

  1. Stick with the basics. Eat a balanced diet most of the time. Get an appropriate amount of rest (8-9 hours a night). Afternoon naps can help refresh energy levels, however make sure you are getting a good night’s sleep and not just depending on afternoon naps! And exercise. College is a lot of head-work, make sure your body is working too. Try to exercise at least three times of week, even if that exercise is a quick walk around the neighborhood.
  2. Minimize or eliminate use of alcohol. Drinking alcohol to the point of intoxication not only destroys brain cells, but it takes your body too long to recuperate. It is your responsibility to make alcohol decisions sensibly.
  3. Almost all college students live with someone else. It is important to set aside some time to deal with the kinds of issues that people need to deal with when living in close proximity with each other. Consider once a week setting aside at least 30 minutes to an hour for a roommate and/or housemates meeting. You can nip problems in the bud before they get out of hand and become major distractions.
  4. A cluttered living environment usually correlates with a cluttered mind. Take some time once a week to clean and reorganize your living space. When things are kept in order, people just seem to work more efficiently and more effectively.
  5. Woody Allen once said that one of the most important things in life is to show up. A significant part of university structure is about classes and what occurs there. This may sound trite but GO TO CLASS. Some classes are boring, some professors are boring, some classes are hard, some classes are at a time that you don’t particularly like. In some ways this list is endless but if you need this class and it is part of your degree program, the most important thing you need to do is to show up. By showing up you demonstrate your commitment to your goals of staying in and finishing college. Once you are there you might as well take notes, read the material and know when tests and quizzes are going to take place. Research on college students indicates that higher class attendance correlates with higher grades, earlier completion of degrees and simply staying at the university. . . . so, GO TO CLASS!
  6. The old rule of thumb of two hours of study for every hour in class is a good one. Chart out your week and set aside specific study times. Research shows that using early morning hours before or in-between classes sufficiently increases the amount of studying that students do. If you are having difficulty in a class, make an appointment with Academic Counseling & Support for assistance or ask your professor for help during his/her office hours.
  7. Often students say there is nothing to do on campus. What this really is about is that many times, as creatures of habit, students don’t look for the alternatives. There is probably no singular environment on the planet than that of the university that offers a wider variety of activities and choices for events and activities. Take the time to read the Bulletin each week and find out about current events on campus. Plays, concerts, films, and special interest groups/clubs can add a great deal to your experience. Challenge yourself to get involved.
  8. Career choice is a difficult area for students to deal with. In many ways it is best to come to college without a career decision cast in stone. Experiment with courses and try a variety of subjects! The Academic Counseling office and the Career Development Center can help you narrow your interests, select a major, and plan your career. The Academic Counseling website also has many resources for exploring majors.
  9. It is important to set aside time to develop meaningful relationships in college. They will enrich your experience in a variety of ways. Having someone to exercise with, someone to grapple with ideas as part of your intellectual academic experience and someone to feel emotionally and, when appropriate, physically connected to is important.
  10. It comes without saying that all individuals who go to school have personal concerns and problems. Problems are a part of life. The difficulty with personal issues is that they can take a real drain on our total amount of energy and really affect students in achieving their intellectual potential. There comes a point when you need to talk with someone else. Counseling and Psychological Services is open to all UST students and is free!
  11. Get to know your faculty/instructors. Try to find a time to visit each of your faculty members at least once or twice during the semester. When you have problems or concerns related to coursework, know that faculty members have posted hours and they are available to visit with you. Most faculty members have a diversified background above and beyond the course matter that you are taking. They are a valuable resource to stimulate your ideas. They also are excellent resources for networking as you move through your college career. The time spent in one-to-one conversation with a faculty member can be one of the most positive aspects of your career. Sooner or later you will find a faculty mentor who can and will open some very interesting doors for you. Target a time and get yourself to go visit those faculty members.
  12. The Office of Academic Counseling and Support will provide you with an advisor during your first two years. Once you officially declare your major you will be assigned an advisor in your department. It is important that your advisor is someone you are comfortable working with. Advisors are someone you should visit at least twice a semester. They have information and ideas that, as mentioned above, will open doors for you. Advisors can make your life a lot easier while you are in college. Don’t be afraid to use them. Information they have regarding course selection, the use of the catalogue or other options such as scholarships or special programs are usually things that they can and will communicate to you. Advisors don’t go looking for you—you need to go looking for them. This is just one other little thing that can make your college experience a bit better.

Based upon Richard Boyum’s Thirteen Tips to Enhance your College Experience at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Counseling Services.