How to Complete Your Education and Prepare for Working Life

Kellie Hanna, CPRW By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: May 25, 2023

You’re about to embark on the biggest adventure of your life so far: You’re accepting an admissions offer from the college of your choice. In the fall (or whenever your slated start date occurs) you’ll be moving in, meeting your new classmates, and launching into the next phase of a successful, fulfilling, educated adult life.

Silhouette of a group of people throwing graduation caps in the air

But as you start packing your bags and making this transition, how will you define a “successful” experience? How can you make sure you come out at the end with something you didn’t have at the beginning—something that’s worth an investment of four years and thousands of dollars? Here are a few ways to get the most out of your education and launch yourself into a brilliant career.

1. Study…but don’t just study.

You’ll need to complete your assignments and pass your tests; that’s a given. But the professor at the front of the room is more than just an assignment-giver and test-grader. The person isn’t just standing there like an automated lecture-bot. She’s also a valuable resource and a deep well of information. She didn’t get where she is by sitting around. So learn from what she knows. Ask deeper questions than the lecture may cover. You’re paying for her office hours, so use them. And when she speaks, listen carefully and read between the lines.

2. Read more than what’s assigned.

You may have to make your textbooks a priority most of the time. But keep room in your life for fiction, biographies, histories, journal publications and other forms of reading that haven’t been assigned. It’s a sad but true fact that most people stop reading altogether after their college years end (they literally don’t pick up a single book for years at a time, if ever). So as long reading is a necessary, possible, and expected part of your daily routine, do as much of it as you can.

3. Make friends.

This doesn’t mean “go to parties” and it certainly doesn’t mean you should add drinking and carousing to your to-do list. But it DOES mean making time to connect personally with the people around you. Making friends (just like reading books) may never be this easy or come this naturally ever again, so don’t assume that late night hangouts and dorm room conversations are a waste of time.

4. Know– and care– what will become of you.

When you leave college and start applying for jobs, employers won’t expect to see a long track record of professional experience. At the age of 22, this isn’t a realistic requirement. But employers do usually want something from new graduates that they don’t always find: a sense of purpose. If you can TELL your employer where you’re going, what you need, and what you plan to do with your life (rather than shrugging, or worse, asking them), then you’ll be putting your education to good purpose.

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