Things to Try in College
No doubt college is a time of many firsts. You are experiencing a level of freedom that you never had living under your parents’ roof. You are in a new surrounding full of ambition and hope and excitement for a bright future as you are just beginning to realize your potential. What’s more, you are surrounded by peers who are experiencing the same feelings as they go through this transition. Now while hollywoods social pressures may insist that drugs, alcohol, and sex are at the top of the list, we want to provide you with more wholesome things to try in college.
Despite how unique everyone’s college experience is, this fundamentally shared framework, a group of young adults who leave home and go off to college, manifests in some pretty characteristic experiences—a communal coming-of-age. So, what are these staples of college experience, you might ask?
Well, first is going to be the iconic throwing of the frisbee on the lawn. It doesn’t matter if you have never thrown a frisbee or have thrown a frisbee and feel no particular inclination to ever do it again, college doesn’t give you much of a choice. You must throw a frisbee on a lawn. At least once. This one does not quite have the sound logic justifying it like the ones that follow, but it is, for one unknown reason or another, iconic. And it is easy enough to do. So just do it.
Next is going to be tailgating a sports game. You might think you have done this in high school, but you have not tailgated a sports event until you are in college. The experience is entirely different when it is done beside thousands of students that live on or near campus and even die-hard alum who still rep the squad and colors, reflecting back on their glory days. There is a rich tradition of college culture which you experience viscerally only through select activities, and tailgating is absolutely one of them. What if your school doesn’t have sports? Well, find something else to tailgate. All you need is an excuse. Dean of the college is giving a talk? I can already hear the tailgate horns ablowing.
If sports isn’t your thing, then consider music. Attend a local concert with some of your peers. Whether it’s on campus or at a venue nearby, shared experiences such as concerts can help bond you with your college kin and relieve the stress of academics, even if just for a night. Try out a new genre and find an excuse to get out of the dorms! If you find yourself too much of an introvert, or riddled with a crippling amount of social anxiety for the large crowds and venues in concerts – set your goal to attend atleast one house party, whether it’s a frat party or just the house next door.
A third must-do in college is take random courses that interest you. It doesn’t matter if you are a philosophy major—try out that interesting art or science class. Or for those engineers of you out there, make the time to take art or film or whatever interests you. It will broaden your horizons. And, what’s more, there will be plenty of kids who ace their major coursework and go on to apply their study to their respective field. But cross and interdisciplinary connections are where you can truly bring insight. Think Steve Jobs and calligraphy.
Another staple of college, interestingly enough, is traveling abroad. Plan to take one term or a summer to travel to another campus around the world. You will be able to take coursework there and also immerse in their university scene. You will find that America is a beacon of undergraduate culture throughout the world. American universities are renowned for their intellectual firepower, but also for their liberal social dimensions. Foreign college students envy the authentic beer pong or flip cup experience. So, turn up and make America proud. Show them how it’s done.
Next, how about starting a company? Many companies that shape the landscape of our society and culture today were started by a group of kids in college. Think Facebook. What’s more, start-ups are all the rage and can be done with little overhead. Got a great idea for a new app, the next Snapchat, perhaps? Find some friends with programming skills and transform your idea into something tangible. It doesn’t take much, and it is a great form of professional development.
But perhaps you are more about social advocacy than business. How about starting a non-profit or a student organization? We all know that college-aged students have embarrassingly low voter turnout. How about finding a way to do something about it? Gather a group of friends you share a strong interest with and turn it into a charity or a campus organization. Who knows, maybe it will take off and become your focus after graduation.
College is a great time of self development and exploration. Many people can attest to their university years being the greatest time of their lives. Why? Because it is a very concentrated series of new experiences and new ideas. You are surrounded by bright, enthusiastic kids who are just beginning to explore the world for their own. Make use of it. Try new things. Develop new ideas. Be creative. Be innovative. Immerse in your social role as a college student and uphold the tradition.