By Kelsey Tucker
College, as we’ve all heard before, is an awesome four (or five, or even six) years. The beauty of undergraduate education is that in this state of semi-independence, you can start cultivating good habits that you can practice until you graduate and then bring them into the real world. Continue reading to get a jump-start on the 7 most valuable habits you can start working on now:
- Find a lesson in everything. You can learn from even the most seemingly mundane tasks, and it’s easier to get through a bad day if you persistently ask yourself what you should be learning from this experience and what you can get out of it.
- Make a budget – and stick to it. Undergrads have varying levels of financial independence, but whether your parents are helping out or you’re working two jobs and are totally on your own, figure out how to budget your money needs so that you can enjoy the occasional night at the bars and also start setting some money aside for impending post-grad life.
- Wake up early. As great as it may sound to schedule class from noon to six and maximize your night-owl potential, there’s something about waking up with the rising sun that inspires productivity. You’ll have enough time to make a cup of coffee and finish any last-minute work from the day before.
- Exercise. Breaking a sweat is vital. It keeps you healthy, releases stress and maintains fitness. The earlier you can get used to carving out some time every day to work out, the better! It doesn’t matter how you do it: whether it’s hitting the gym, going for a run or riding your bike along the Hocking, exercising will improve your mental focus, can help you sleep better, and is a far superior outlet for stress than a round of tequila shots at Tony’s.
- Learn as much as you can. We all have to take classes that don’t pertain to what we want to do with our lives, and even when we do take classes for our major, there are days when it seems like everything being taught is common sense. As tempting as it is to skip that 8 a.m. biology class, you should go – and don’t write it off, soak up as much as you can. You never know: someday, you might have a boss who’s into environmentalism, and when you can toss out that random fact about deciduous forests, you’ll look like a champ.
- Manage your time. This one is invaluable. Little things like reviewing your class notes every day instead of cramming or reading a few pages of that assigned novel while in line at Front Room add up fast, and making changes to plan ahead and divide up your work will mean a way easier time before exams – and once you’re in the workplace, you’ll have a better idea of the workload you’re capable of and how to most effectively use your time.
- Network. As a freshman, sophomore, or even a junior, it can seem intimidating to just stroll into a professor’s office and shoot the breeze. What if they have no idea who you are? What if you can’t keep the conversation going? What if you have nothing to talk about? You may run into these difficulties, but most professors realize the position undergrads are in and they want to help. Plus, these issues will never go away; I guarantee that at some point in your future you’ll run into an awkward pause in a conversation or have to introduce yourself to someone who doesn’t remember you at all. Practice it now, while no one’s judging you.
Kelsey Tucker is a senior double majoring in strategic communication and spanish. After graduation she hopes to work in downtown Cleveland with the technology marketing company she’s interned at the past two summers. Follow her on Twitter at @kelseyptucker!