Last month, Gallup published an exceptionally useful article on its website. Titled “5 Ways to Make College a Success,” it distills the insights, wisdom, and common sense recommendations of people who have been through college and survived to tell the tale.(Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action)
Ever wish you knew then what you know now? Now you can, if you’re a college student or about to be one. You can benefit from the earned, lived wisdom reflected in the tips below, without having to make the mistakes others have made. If you follow them, these five tips can make a huge difference in your ability to thrive and excel—not just at school but in life.
An excerpt of the article is below.
- Get a postsecondary credential or degree. But don’t feel like you need to do this until you have a clear—or somewhat clear—idea of your goals. People who graduated from college at a later age were less likely to regret their education paths. In fact, think about career and life goals first. Then think about where you want to go and the majors and fields of study that align with those. Then decide how much you are willing to spend—or take out in loans—on your education. Many Americans do all of this backward today.
- Don’t pursue a bachelor’s degree by default. There are many paths to a great career and fulfilling life, including earning technical and career certificates, associate degrees, etc. And you can always stack credentials and degrees over time. Associate degree holders, for example, are more likely than bachelor’s degree holders to strongly agree that they have the ideal job for them and that they are deeply interested in their work.
- Don’t take on more than $25,000 in total student loan debt. Graduates with student loan debt over $25,000 have lower overall well-being and are more likely to regret their education decisions.
- Question the value of attending prestigious, highly selective and high-priced colleges and universities. They actually provide little (at best) to no (at worst) advantage in being engaged in your job and in your life outcomes (thriving in your well-being). Nor do they reduce the chances of feeling education regret. College is much more about what you make of it—how you take advantage of your education—than the type of institution you attend.
- When you actually attend college, make sure you do the things listed below. Grads who hit the marks on these double their odds of being engaged at work and having thriving well-being later in life:
- As best you can, pick professors, not courses. Seek professors who have reputations for being amazing teachers and mentors.
- Invest in a mentor. This goes both ways—someone who agrees to or offers to mentor you, as well as someone you feel is worth the investment of your time.
- Find a job or internship where you can apply what you’re learning, or work to connect what you’re learning to your current job.
- Take at least a couple of courses that involve long-term projects requiring a semester or more of work to complete.
- Don’t try to “pad your résumé” with a long list of extracurricular activities; get deeply, lastingly engaged in at least one.
Read the entire article at the Gallup site.