3 Important Things College Students Should Do/ Take Advantage Of but Don’t
Now going into my senior year at UCLA, I’ve noticed a lot of things that I wish I could have changed and taken advantage of during my time here. I’m not saying I have regrets, because I definitely tried my best to get the most out of my education. But, I am saying that there were some resources and tools that my peers and I could have used more frequently to our advantage. Here are a couple of things that college students should do/take advantage of, but don’t.
1. Your Professors
Even though it may seem intimidating to go have a conversation with one of the smartest people you have ever met, professors are dreaming of the day when a student walks into their office just to talk. I know the stereotype is that professors should be at the front of the class and the students in the back, but go break that stereotype, get in front of your professor and learn from each other. You don’t have to walk in with a question or a comment about the class, just walk in and learn. You will be amazed at what you can gain with just a 15 minute, genuine conversation with one of your professors.
On the other side, if you are struggling with something in the class, go see your professor for help. Don’t just sit there and struggle. Seriously, I don’t know why we humans always want to do things on our own and typically have a stubborn, independent mind-set, but the reality is that college is hard. There are going to be some classes where it feels like your professor is speaking gibberish, when you’re homework seems written in ancient Hittite, and your classmates somehow seem to understand every single concept discussed. If you find yourself in this spot, go seek help. Use the best and most efficient resource that you could possibly find, your professors.
2. Writing Centers
I have to admit, I was very headstrong when it came to writing papers my first two years at UCLA. As an English major, I thought that I would only need feedback from the best in the business, my professors. However, the older I got, the more I came to realize the significant importance of peer review. Whether you ask your friends, your parents, or your floor-mates any feedback is good feedback. Since writing is so subjective and individualistic, take every comment you receive with a grain of salt. Your writing is still yours and feedback people give is always suggestive. Never lose your voice in the sea of comments.
I can almost guarantee that one of the least used resources at UCLA is the Writing Center. If you are struggling with anything mechanical in your paper: thesis, intro paragraph, grammar, etc., go to your campus’ Writing Center. Everyone struggles with writing at some point or another while in college. I mean, if you can’t understand the subject matter, how are you going to write about it? The Writing Center at UCLA combines peer review with professional assistance. The people reading and reviewing your paper are students at UCLA, but they are the best academic writers at our school. I remember having just a one-hour session with one of them during my sophomore year and I still remember many of the techniques he taught me and continue to implement them today. Moral of the story, if you need help, go and get it. There is nothing more disheartening than having a blank word document open for three hours. When in reality, you could go to a writing center for about an hour and be on your way to crafting an A paper.
3. Your Education
There is an extremely unfortunate student thinking that plagues campuses across the world. The thought is, “Why go to class when everything is podcasted, online, and always right at my finger tips?” While having class material online is very useful while studying or doing homework, it will never replace the classroom. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked into a class on the 2nd day and sat in a room with 50% less students than the day before. And in a class of 300 students, the professor can’t manage the attendance. It becomes our decision to get the most we possibly can out of our education.
Look, students that are going to college are undeniably fortunate. In 2015, it was reported that 70% of people in the United States don’t have a college degree and 93.3% of people on Earth don’t have a college degree. Getting a chance at a higher education is so lucky and you are part of the 6% that has that opportunity. USE IT. Go to class. Take advantage of the incredible education you receive. Let your body, mind, and soul be invested in learning and growing as a person. Be the one to give back to those who were unable to learn the things you did. Go teach, go explore, go visit, go donate, go be the best person you can be. But, always remember, being able to do all of those things starts with you and your education. It starts with going to class, talking to your professors, and being respectful of yourself and others. I can guarantee you will begin learning all of those things in college but it has to be you to make the decision to do so.
Matt is a UCLA College Mentor at the Mentr App ready to help high schoolers with college advice. Matt is an English major who specializes in admissions essays, interviews plus anything and everything UCLA. He can be found at http://mentr.io/matt-ucla.html