Almost anyone who has graduated from college and subsequently landed a job can testify that seldom, if ever, does a prospective employer ask about your grade point average. An interviewer may be impressed by membership in an honor society or a special award you received. But even those achievements are seldom noted with more than a smile and a congratulatory remark in passing.
Believe it or not, earning a Phi Beta Kappa key or graduating at the top of your class has less lasting value than your Eagle Scout project in high school, the black belt you qualified for in karate, the volunteer hours you put in at a local food bank or refugee center, or even the sports you played. Making the dean’s list for eight semesters may count for less than the summer experiences you had trekking through South America or serving as an ESL instructor in your home community.
The following ideas will enrich your life and help you plan for your future:
Read, Read, Read
Read not only for pleasure but to satisfy your curiosity and boost your understanding of history, current events, the ways things work, and the way that other people think. Reading helps you organize your thoughts, improves your ability to express yourself verbally and through the written word, and may even improve your grades! Reading is a habit as much as a skill. Don’t neglect it, and you will reap rewards throughout your life.
Volunteer your time and energy to a cause that resonates with you. Pick an organization or an issue that you care about, and give of yourself in whatever ways seem appropriate, based on the skills you possess and the commitment you feel. Help organize a charity event, collect money for a unique campus project, help prepare and distribute food for the homeless, or become a volunteer set-builder for a local drama group. But commit to regular service. You will be enriched through the effort.
Working for pay, no matter how menial the job, offers a kind of reality check — for now and for the future. A part-time job, even if you don’t need the money to pay for tuition, can be a source of mental and emotional pride. Working with others and having a schedule also offer balance to your life. You might think that schooling is a “full-time job” in and of itself, but it cannot compare to the juggling act that career, family, and finances can impose on your life following graduation. Consider your part-time college job a “required course” for your future.
There’s nothing like getting away from your familiar environment to expand your mind. New experiences lead to a better understanding of people and a broader knowledge of cultures and international affairs. The more you see the world as it exists today, the better you might understand the global economy and be able to address future problems at home and abroad. Today, we are all citizens of the world, and we should get to know as much about it as possible.
Be Good to Yourself
It may be difficult to imagine your life 10, 30, or 50 years in the future, but one thing is certain. The future is uncertain. However, by developing beneficial lifestyle habits today, you can contribute to your future well-being. Lasting health and vitality are not guaranteed, but a lifestyle that disregards exercise, nutrition, and positive thinking will inevitably lead to less-than-desirable results. Don’t take chances. You have a choice.
A “Well-rounded” Experience
It may be a somewhat outdated term, but interviewers are still interested in “well-rounded” job applicants who demonstrate an understanding of the way the world functions and have the interpersonal skills to function in an increasingly complex society.
The concept is still relevant. College offers a kaleidoscope of opportunities to explore multiple paths. Earning a degree, however, doesn’t signify the end of the journey; rather, it is only the beginning of a lifelong learning experience.