DO experience new things. If you’re comfortable, if things feel easy, if you think you have it all figured out… you’re doing it wrong! Four years goes by quickly and, trust me on this, and you’ll regret not doing new and unique things when you had the chance. Attend an academic lecture. Join a club or organization. Sign up for an interesting class even if it doesn’t count for your major.
DO stop by your professor’s office. If you’re confused about the class material, talk to him or her about it. Even if you’re not lost, get to know your professors outside of class. If you come by, you’ll be more than just another name on the class roster.
DO work on research. It could be as simple as helping a professor collect data for a project (we love it when students take an interest in our research). It could also be a semester long research paper on a topic of your choosing. Whatever the project, rather than reading your textbook, find the answers on your own!
DO exercise. Granted, exercise is hard and you only have so much time in the day. But research has shown that exercise not only improves your mood, but it improves your grade as well (which, you know, further improves your mood).
DO enjoy yourself. Go to parties, go to sporting events, hang out with friends. College should be one of the most enjoyable times of your life. And you know what, that’s ok.
DO be organized. Yes, that’s easier said than done. But you really do need to work ahead in classes and study daily. How can you avoid procrastination? Make a schedule where you go to the library and study for 2 hours (minimum) each day. Have a mindset where you never, ever, deviate from that routine. I often tell students college is hard but straightforward; it comes down to the number of hours your butt is a chair studying.
DON’T close your door. Ok, maybe you’ll need to close it occasionally. But don’t hide in your room. An open door says “I want to meet new people,” and meeting new people is one of the most rewarding experiences in college. It’s not all about the memories, either. A single person can change your life.
DON’T be silent in class. First, public speaking is an important skill. And it can be terrifying. Speaking in class is a low cost way to improve this important skill. Second, speaking in class is a great way for a professor to get to know you. Going to your professor’s office, speaking in class, and doing well in the course will net you a nice recommendation letter when you apply to law school/graduate school/internships/jobs.
DON’T worry about having all the answers. Pro tip: If you think you have all the answers, no matter what your age, you’re almost certainly wrong. Sign up for an unusual class. Keep an open mind about majors and minors. Consider various career paths. College isn’t for the close minded.
DON’T forget your family. Exercise is great for your personal well-being. An email or phone call to your mom and dad (or any family member) is good for their well-being (and yours).
DON’T enjoy yourself… too much. Everything in life needs to be in moderation. How much is too much? Here are a few signs: Are you sleeping in and missing class? Are you getting “Cs” (or worse)? If you answered yes, spend more time in the library.
DON’T ask “is this going to be on the exam.” It signals that you don’t care about the class. From a professor to a student: Don’t be that student. Be professional. Believe me, it matters.