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20 practical ways to make the most out of your time on campus

Priya Narasimhan
Priya Narasimhan
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20 practical ways to make the most out of your time on campus

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Priya Narasimhan
Priya Narasimhan

Take in everything that your university has to offer you. Savor, learn, grow.

Take in everything that your university has to offer you.

A university is a special place of unparalleled energy, optimism, risk-taking, ideas, debates, and learning. It’s a place to find what you love, to find what you’re great at, and to find a way to combine the two.

As a faculty member, I want my students to make the most of their time with us. I want them to use all that we have — our resources, our faculty, our facilities, our opportunities— to the fullest. I want them to expand the things that they can do, the experiences that they have lived, the ideas that they have, and the paths that they can take.

I want them to savor every little thing we have to offer, and to find joy in it.

Take in everything that your university has to offer you.

How to make the most of your time as a student

If you’re a student, here are 20 things that I hope that you get to do.

  1. Do research. Go to an undergrad research symposium, and be inspired.
  2. Attend seminars of famous visitors to your university. While in university, I got to hear talks from Stephen Hawking and John Cleese alike.
  3. If someone at your university wins a major award and gives a talk, go to their talk. It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand everything. You’ll come away learning something new.
  4. Explore your campus. Go into buildings you haven’t. Go into the oldest building on your campus, and feel its bones. Find out the history of your university. Find out about your campus artwork. Go see it.
  5. Go to your university library. Spend time there. Being around people who are studying is inspiring. A university library — with its stillness, absorbed silence, rows and rows of books to discover, and the sight of people lost in reading — is a thing of beauty.
  6. Go to office hours. Your professors want to know you. So, make it happen. If you do well in a course, make sure you introduce yourself to the professor afterwards or during the course, so that they remember you (for when you need recommendations).
  7. Go to industry talks and recruiting sessions. Learn about companies and jobs out there, even if you think you’re not interested or not yet ready.
  8. Do an internship. Tell your professors about it. Ask them how you can share the lessons and experiences with other students.
  9. Connect with your professors on LinkedIn, after you’ve taken their courses. Ask for a LinkedIn recommendation from a professor if you’ve done well in a course. This recommendation will stay on your profile for keeps.
  10. If you like a course and have aced it, volunteer to be a Teaching Assistant. It’s a rewarding experience to teach others. And you might learn more in the process of teaching.
  11. Go to your university gym on an early morning or during your lunch hour. Sign up for a class, sign up to learn a sport you know nothing about. It’s inspiring to be around people who are striving to be healthy.
  12. Volunteer for outreach opportunities, such as working with high-school and middle-school students. It’s inspiring to be around people who want to be in your shoes.
  13. Follow your department’s Twitter and Instagram accounts so you can stay up-to-date with information. Tag your department in interesting things you tweet that might be relevant to them.
  14. Figure out if there is a department newsletter or magazine, and ask if you can write for it.
  15. Take a class in a different department. Expand your circle of knowledge and acquaintances.
  16. Take a class on project management and practical life skills, like how to do a great presentation.
  17. Take a walk or grab a run through your campus over a weekend or during a mid-semester break. You’ll miss this later.
  18. Go watch your university sports teams playing. Any sport. Especially against a long-standing rival. Cheering for your university is special.
  19. Go see the final project demos or poster session of a class that you know nothing about, but that you are intrigued by.
  20. Take lots of pictures. You’ll miss this place later.