The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) is an honors organization that recognizes high-achieving first-and-second year college students. With over 300 chapters nationwide, NSCS is proud to provide career and graduate school connections, leadership and service opportunities, and more than $750,000 in scholarships. With more than 25 years of experience, we’ve learned a lot about how to best support college students. Whether or not you choose to join the NSCS community yourself, you’ll want to check out these tips.
Tip 1: Connect
As a freshman or sophomore in college, a post-college career might not be on your radar quite yet, but in reality, it’s never too early to start thinking about it. One of the best ways to get your foot in the door at an internship or job is through a shared connection. Find ways to make connections with people in the job force whose work you admire, professors who you emulate, or even grad students who may be able to provide some insights or career advice. If you are nervous or unsure about how to connect with a stranger, often times a simple email introduction can work great. In the email make sure to tell them something about their work that you admire, offer to help them in some way, and ask for pointed advice by using a specific question.
Tip 2: Think Outside Your Major
It might be tempting to focus solely on the course of study in your major only. Once you find your passion and you focus in on it, you might have tunnel vision that prevents you from seeing anything else around you. But, there is a huge benefit to taking classes outside your major as time permits. You might find that you can extrapolate ideas from new and different courses into your field of study. Or by learning something entirely different, you could be challenging yourself to think in a new way. While taking a literature course might seem unrelated to your engineering major – you could learn how to apply principles of writing into your engineering work. Additionally, thinking back to Tip 1, you could end up meeting an important networking connection you never otherwise would have met!
Tip 3: If Opportunities Don’t Exist, Try To Make Them
What should you do if it seems like an option doesn’t exist? At NSCS we encourage students to see the absence of an option, as an opportunity. By re-framing the situation, you might be able to come up with something even better than what you hoped already existed. Is there a particular club on campus that doesn’t yet exist? A potential creative project you’d like to pursue? Don’t wait for someone else to coordinate the opportunity for you. Use your networks to find out how you can collaborate with others to make it happen. Work together with friends and people outside your social circle to create something. Chances are, you’ll learn a LOT more by creating the opportunity yourself.
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Tip 4: Get Involved
This tip might seem like a no-brainer, but it can be hard to get motivated to join things, especially in today’s challenging pandemic environment. Additionally, we all have different personalities, and if you are a more introverted person, the thought of getting involved might seem daunting. The good news is, there are many different ways to “get involved” in activities within or outside your school. Try volunteering with a letter writing campaign for seniors, or join a networking group for marketing professionals – you could even take a writing or fine arts class on zoom. Not only are extracurricular activities beneficial for your mental health, your sense of accomplishment, and serve as a fun way to break up the monotony of school – they too, can lead to valuable social and career connections.
Tip 5: Focus On Physical & Mental Health
It might be tempting to eat pizza five nights a week, but you’ll quickly find that it does not lead to your optimal school and work performance. Give yourself an advantage by taking care of your physical and mental health. Self-care comes in many forms (not just online shopping), and the best, most successful version of you is the one that is well rested, eating nutritiously, and replenishing with good sleep habits. Keep your stress in check with exercise, meditation, and take advantage of mental health resources your school provides. There are even apps you can download to help with this, from mindfulness to time management and even talk therapy.
Well we hope you have enjoyed these tips for making the most out of college! If you are curious about joining the NSCS community, we invite you to visit https://nscs.org/chat/ to speak with a real member and find out what it is like to be part of the community.
Stay healthy and keep striving!
Elisabeth George, NSCS Content Marketing Manager