“What am I in college for?” “What are these classes supposed to teach me?” “Is my professor actually going to take attendance or can I stay in my dorm and take an extra nap during this class?” “How can I get a job?” “Why am I paying so much money to learn?” “Shall I pursue my passion or allow my parents’ dreams for my life to live vicariously through me?” “What is the real point in higher education?” “Professor, please don’t go over the scheduled time because I have to be to work in less than 30 minutes.” “I need to go see my advisor because I can already tell that I can’t follow this schedule of mine.”
As campus bustles with students ready to begin another semester here at Montclair State University, there are a number of thoughts that roam about in students’ minds. So many are eager to see old friends, meet new ones and make this semester better than the last. However, often times those aspirations end the second week of the new school year along with unaccomplished goals that we allow ourselves to put off until an unpromising next time.
There are a few lessons that I’ve learned from my higher education experience that I wish to share with others. These lessons will allow you to not drop the ball and essentially keep your level of energy and enthusiasm up throughout the semester rather than in spurts. Some of the lessons were taught directly to me in a classroom setting and some were taught in an informal setting such as the cafe on campus.
The number one lesson for beginning this semester is about time management.
There are 15 weeks in each semester. Develop a time management plan now that includes long-range (6 months/1 year), mid-range (next week/next month) and short-range (today/this week) goals.
There is plenty of time to get excited and toast to our accomplishments, but it is not wise to make it a top priority during the semester. Think about it; after we bang out these 15 weeks of giving 200 percent, we have a month off of school to do whatever we please.
The second lesson to learn while here at Montclair State University is regarding networking.
Montclair State is the second largest public school in New Jersey next to Rutgers with 16,000 undergraduates. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of all jobs are found through networking. It is important that you take the time necessary to get to know your professors and classmates when you are in a college environment. I see it as a more relaxed business convention. It’s best that one takes advantage of stopping by the professor’s office or directly speaks to their classmates because society sometimes waters down progress while veiling it behind an overly bureaucratic and complex plan.
If you are passionate about what you are studying, apply it in your everyday life and create something.
Whether you are a dancer that creates a dance club on campus, a writer that joins The Montclarion (wink) or a skateboarder that creates a skateboarding crew on campus, whatever you do, stay engaged. Some may argue that my three points are not the most valuable when entering higher education. Some may say it’s not as fun and free spirited as I’ve made it seem. My advice to that is to loosen up and not to spend so much time working to make a living that you forget to live.
Our motto is “Carpe Diem” which means to “seize the day.” Andy Warhol once said, “The idea is not to live forever but to create something that will.” Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Work hard, play hard (in that order) and have a great semester.
The last lesson that I will leave you with is critical thinking and innovation.
The years spent at a higher education institution are meant to instill higher level thinking which is basic knowledge and comprehension acquired through questioning and critical thinking. This time in college gives you the experience and safety blanket to question and challenge what you are being presented with. But at the root of someone creating their own path at college is independence and individuality coming together to produce a more conscious, multidimensional and engaged member of society.