More Advice For Your College Journey

My last article entailed an exploration of tips for College. I bring you more tips for your College journey.

Students hold varied attitudes about electives. For some, they are annoying extra courses that keep them in college for a longer time than they need to be, while for others, they’re opportunities to explore their interests or earn easy A’s. Ironically, these “electives” often cannot be opted out of, so it’s important to make the most of them. Aside from exploring one’s personal interests, selecting suitable electives may offer great opportunities to learn additional skills that may come in handy in an individual’s career path. So, though a Badminton one credit course may seem like a fun choice, wouldn’t it be a whole lot more useful to take up Information Technology or some other course that would make any student more marketable after college?

No one wants to look back on his/her college life regretting a decision to completely avoid any extra curricula activities in favour of simply studying to make good grades. Such a situation would be nothing short of a tragedy. Engaging in extra curricula activities offers an escape from the frustrations of having heavy or difficult course loads that can easily push a student over the threshold of insanity. They offer opportunities to socialize, build wholesome relationships with other students and also offer awesome opportunities for networking or developing one’s career. For instance, through her involvement in the National Association for Black Accountants, a St. Lucian student, Sherry-Anne McVane (B.S. in Accounting and Computer Information Systems), was able to secure a scholarship, internship with Deloitte (whom she now works for) and placement in the Global Internship Programme in South Africa.

For college students, interning can be very rewarding. Joseph Joseph, another St. Lucia-born graduate of Grambling State University with a B.S. in Accounting and Computer Information Systems with a minor in Marketing is all too familiar with these rewards. He interned with retail giant, Walmart, for two consecutive summers (in 2012 and 2013). In a recent interview with Joseph, he explained that interning offered him the chance to learn about the real-life expectations of corporate America, the chance to build relationships and grow as a person. Like many students who intern before graduating, his experience has equipped him with real life experiences that have certainly shaped him into a superior professional. While other college graduates were groveling for jobs after graduation, Joseph had two job offers from Walmart, and he now works as an IT Rotational Analyst at Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. His experience is not an isolated incident as many wise ex-college interns can attest to similar stories. So don’t just earn that degree, get the experience you need to back it up.

You’re probably going to thoroughly enjoy college. For many people, their years in college will probably offer the best memories of their lives, so understandably, life beyond those years may sometimes be hard to fathom. Others look forward to life after graduation, but spend little time on planning on life beyond college. It helps to mentally prepare. For some, letting go of the routine of college, the experience of spending time with friends and all the thrills of college life, may evolve into an experience dubbed “the graduation blues.” It’s important to be prepared to deal with letting go of college life so that you can gracefully move on to the next chapter.

The graduate’s preparation may also involve more practical steps, like applying for a job or graduate school, or planning a big move ahead of time. In the case of students who chose to study outside of their home countries, these may involve planning for work permits or obtaining student visas, steps that need to be carefully considered well ahead of time.

Most students can only dream of paying for college out of pocket or obtaining full ride scholarships and the reality is that many finance their education through student loans. These are often significant financial burdens. Although lending institutions often offer grace periods for repayment after graduation, it may help to get a head start if you are in a position to, by making payments toward student loans ahead of due dates. There are two key benefits of doing this. First, the student may finish paying off their loans sooner and free his/herself of this financial obligation. Secondly, payments made ahead of the due date can lessen the pinch of interest charges that may result in cases where unemployment may delay loan repayment.

This is a no-brainer, but an honorable mention indeed. In short, don’t do anything that will jeopardize your future or waste your investment in yourself.

Enjoy college, excel, but above all, carpe diem.

By Sharlene Cassius

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