Everyone has a different college experience and mine has been full of life lessons. My college takeaways may be a bit different from most, but I speak from personal experience.
1. Procrastination, in many cases, is just prioritizing.
Professors rant and rave about procrastination, but I think they forget we have lives outside of class. If I have to choose between preserving my well-being over homework, then so be it. Paying bills, staying healthy and finishing homework are all priorities. Juggling those things is an art form I like to call prioritization. With that said, putting off homework when there is plenty of time to finish it is a sure way to fail. Prioritize for success in all parts of your life.
2. Find ways to get involved with professional groups.
Students need to build a network with peers and professionals. PRSSA is a great resource, but not the only one available to students. If you have an interest in social media, then find your local Social Media Club. If you enjoy digital, then attend a Digital Dallas event. Getting involved in organizations outside of school is a great way to show initiative and develop an independent network in your area of interest.
3. Dream jobs and internships are within reach, so apply.
Take a chance. There is nothing to lose. My Grandma convinced me to apply to an NBC News university program. As a news junkie, I dreamed of meeting Tom Brokaw and Ann Curry. I am so thankful my family taught me to give everything a shot, even if it felt out of reach because my semester in New York City was a dream come true. Some people are too afraid of rejection to take a chance, but there’s no way of knowing success without a few failures along the way.
4. Group projects are rarely fun and stressful.
Teachers always say that students will have to work on team projects in the workplace, but it’s a lot more enjoyable to get paid for group work. My first semester at University of North Texas, I had a group project in a public relations course. We tried to work as a group, but one girl refused to show up to meetings. She waited until the last minute to turn in the project and our group leader didn’t want to make it cohesive, so I took charge. I ended up writing the majority of the paper and when I went to check out the sources from our absentee group member, she had plagiarized entire websites. The professor gave us all the same crappy grade, including the deadweight group member. That project ruined my take on group projects.
I have a great group for my senior campaign, but it’s still stressful to put together a project while interning 30 hours a week, commuting 90+ miles, trying to plan a wedding and working with everyone else’s schedules. My group has made a stressful project fun, but I think we’re all ready to be done. We’re all planning a night out at Billy Bob’s with my intern buddy, Erin.
5. Travel while you have the extra time.
There is value in understanding other cultures. Visiting my best friend, Bess Byers, in China was one of the best experiences of my life. I learned a lot about the Chinese culture and traditions. It has made me aware of the Chinese market and what works for brands in that part of the world. That experience is something valuable to a potential employer with an opportunity for growth in China. I hope to learn Mandarin once I finish college.
My college experience has been very different than most people, but I have enjoyed it. I’m also glad it is almost over. I have many more lessons to share, but I’ll save them for another time.