Getting the most out of college

First day of class for the academic year today.  Starting my 14th year at NC State.  Yesterday the N&O ran a terrific column on getting the most out of your college experience.  So much great advice.  Every college student should read this.  Here’s the points I especially liked:

▪ Talk to people. Colleges put a lot of time and money into recruiting a diverse group of students, to say nothing of faculty and staff. This isn’t just to make the brochures look nice. You’re meant to learn something from all of these fellow travelers. They’ve lived in ways you haven’t, been to places you haven’t, read and seen and done things you haven’t. Ask them about it, and listen…

▪  As much as possible, pick your classes based on the instructor rather than the subject. A great teacher can make any topic compelling, and a bad teacher can make any subject numbing. Ask upperclassmen which professors have challenged them and made class memorable. Seek out those teachers.

▪  Drinking yourself silly is an idiotic waste of time. Regular inebriation is not a rite of passage; it is insecurity masquerading as ritual. The majority of your classmates will find more wholesome, less destructive and far more interesting ways of passing the time. Join them.

▪  Attend events. Never again will so many fascinating things take place within walking distance, and mostly for free. Never been to a symphony or a dance performance? Now’s the time. Ever heard a diplomat talk about life overseas? Here’s your chance. You’ll have the rest of your life to watch Netflix, so pay attention to the campus calendar and get out of your dorm room…

▪ Coffee is safe, legal and inexpensive. If you feel the temptation to dabble in chemical stimulants, stick with that one…

Most importantly, relish these days. The opportunity to think and learn and figure out your place in the world is an enormous privilege. Do not, do not, do not waste it.

I guess that’s why I never left.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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