Your 4-Year Plan: How To Take Advantage Of Your College Education

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An article by contributor Meghan Belnap.networking on campus

With the rising costs of college education and the increasing demand on student attention in the form of social and digital media, having a 4-Year plan is absolutely critical to take advantage of your college education. All too often, graduates are saddled with student debt and without suitable work. Some real-world skills are sadly missed or not studied by most new graduates, but it’s never too late to start taking advantage of your education, and laying the ground work for a career after graduation!

Freshman Year: Orient Yourself, Work Hard and Socialize

Most incoming freshman don’t realize the rigors of collegiate coursework. The key to success here is to have a study plan and stay on top of your classes. Find the library, the career services office, and other study resources for your intended major. Without parental guidance and lots of new distractions it’s easy to lose your way. Write down you goals for the semester and reach them!

Start your professional networking now. Meet as many people as possible, even if you consider yourself an introvert, it’s as much a part of the college experience as the knowledge you gain. After all, the people you meet now may become your friends, coworkers, and professional contacts in the future, cherish them!

Sophomore Year: Network, Career Services

In addition to continuing to put forth studying efforts, start to expand your professional network to include alumni in your chosen course of study and companies that recruit at your college. A great way to do this is by attending all networking event and career fairs from now until you have secured a full-time position or made a commitment for work after graduation. Meet everyone in your career services office and regularly check in with them for internship and other work opportunities. The early bird gets the worm!

Junior Year: Find Internships, Form Study Groups, Attend Office Hours

In this year you’ll really begin to focus on your upper level courses. It’s important to join or form study groups to help keep you on track and to meet and develop closer relationships with other students who share your major. These new friends will become your peers in business in a few years. Another excellent and largely missed opportunity is to develop a relationship with your professors. College professors have office hours outside of normal class hours to assist students with the material and it’s highly recommended to meet with your professor at least weekly, if not more.

Your grasp of the material will greatly increase and your professor will be an excellent resource for you in terms of career and future education assistance. With proper networking and help from your professors and career services office, finding an internship or work opportunity for the summer between your junior and senior year will be much easier. Having an internship during this time will greatly increase your chances of landing a job after graduation.

Senior Year: Finish Strong, Get Hired

Keep working and finish your studies strong, continue your efforts from your junior year, all the previous advice applies this year as well. Your knowledge of the career opportunities from your work in previous years is paying off. Companies hire students by conducting on-campus interviews throughout the year. Career services is a wealth of information and can assist you with your resume and mock interviews. Take advantage of everything they offer. Schedule interviews and land a great job before the winter break. Enjoy your final semester knowing you extracted every bit of knowledge you could from college and are ready to enter the workforce.

New incoming freshman and students who wish to excel in college and extract every advantage offered to them during their four years of study take heed. Three very important aspects of college is to meet people, extract every bit of knowledge you can and to secure a full-time job post-graduation. With a solid plan of action, you’ll be lead to success starting from the Utah University admissions office to the completion of your formal education.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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