Tips for college freshmen, relevant to you

November 24 2014

MAKE FRIENDS. WITH PROFESSORS.

Supervisors, bosses, managers, religious leaders. Someone who has been assigned a higher rank than you. Regardless of qualifications, we’re taught to defer and do what they say. This can be intimidating.

Unfortunately, power dynamics build chasms in relationships, relationships that have the potential to dramatically influence who we are and what we become. When someone is standing on a pedestal of authority, it’s easy to forget people are people. There’s a person behind the title. It doesn’t matter who or where, we share hard times, worry about money, feel pain when someone has hurt us, fall in love.

Ask questions, listen, exchange stories. Your career will depend on the recommendations of others. And if you’re in a position of prestige, create an environment that encourages discussion. Share where you’re from, what your life has been like, what struggles hold you down, who has been your greatest teacher. People connect with humanity. Let them connect with you.

FORGET ABOUT MARKS.

Early in school our achievements are rewarded. From that first gold star on our paper, we’re trained to believe our worth is based on performance. Focusing solely on recognition can be counterproductive. Without knowing it, we limit our experiences while simultaneously heightening our anxiety. Success becomes the objective, not the process along the way.

Reframe the goal. Your purpose is to worry less and enjoy more.

DO WHAT EXCITES YOU.

“Join clubs! Participate in events! Apply for internships!” This is a college counselor’s way of telling students to find their passion.

The best lessons in life are often learned outside the classroom. These are lessons you’ll teach your own kid. While knowledge can be gained from hours spent pouring over books, you have to live it. Take a hard look at what really matters and set your priority list. Schedule days accordingly.

SAY THANK YOU.

Always, always say thank you. From the moment you leave your home in the morning, people are helping you, going out of their way, doing their best to share with you what they know. Just because you don’t agree or see immediate value, thank those who support your work. Gratitude sustains us and preserves our most valuable relationships.