5 Tips to Take Advantage of Being a College Student

Holli Goff

Holli Goff, Team Alpha Marketing Intern

April 24, 2024

Making the decision to go to college is no easy task, but choosing to pursue a college degree can change your life in more ways than you think. Every college is different based on size and enrollment, but most of these tricks can be applicable to any institution.

I am currently a senior at the University of Kentucky. I have done just about everything and have been a part of a million clubs and organizations. I feel that I have the inside scoop on how to maximize your college experience, both for professional and personal benefits. So, let’s get into my 5 ways to maximize your time as a college student.

Free stuff is everywhere!

Obviously college is not free, and we pay a lot of money to get an education, but the amount of free stuff that is covered by our tuition is crazy. The best time to maximize on free stuff is right when you get on campus in the Fall. Orientation isn't just for freshmen! Most campuses open these events to everyone. At these orientation events there is always free food, free shirts, free giveaways, candy, and more. I have walked away from these events with multiple t-shirts, a full stomach, and fun prizes that I use in my daily life.

Some of my favorite giveaways have been sunglasses, phone chargers, stickers, and t-shirts!

Join that club!

There are so many perks to joining a club at UK. My freshman year I decided to join Greek Life and go through primary recruitment. For me, this was the easiest way to get involved. By being in a sorority I was able to join clubs my sisters were already in. This allowed me to build more connections and get connected to even more people outside of my greek organization.
As someone who came to college knowing absolutely nobody, clubs were a game-changer. Joining clubs not only builds your resume up; it also makes the campus feel smaller. After getting involved with multiple clubs, I started recognizing friendly faces everywhere – in class, at the library, even walking across campus. It created a real sense of belonging, which made a huge difference in my overall college experience.

Professional Connections

Joining clubs opens up the opportunity to network with campus leadership. Joining a club isn't just about shared interests; it is your gateway to valuable connections. Every student organization typically has a sponsor who is a professor or director overseeing the club. If you are part of a career development club, reach out to your club sponsor for help or guidance. Faculty advisors love to guide students, and they can offer valuable insights or connect you with someone who can.

But the networking gold doesn't stop there. Many universities, like UK, have student alumni associations. Take UK's Student Alumni Ambassadors (SAA) program, for example. As a volunteer SAA, I've connected with more high-ranking officials than anywhere else on campus. I have met the President of UK, legislators, and board of trustees members. Having these connections can help you find internships, jobs, volunteer opportunities, and more.

Creating professional connections led me to Awesome Inc! The Director of the Fellowship program at Awesome Inc was the Entrepreneur in Residence for one of my classes. Throughout the semester, I actively participated in class discussions and tried to impress the AINC Fellowship Director because I looked up to them and liked their career path and trajectory. We connected over the business I was building for class, and they later mentioned the Awesome Inc internship program, Team Alpha. When they mentioned they were looking for interns, I reached out and expressed my interest. This valuable connection not only landed me an internship but also led to the most fulfilling professional experience of my undergraduate career.

Joining a club or building that relationship could be your chance to make meaningful and professional connections.

**On Campus Resources are abundant! **

There are hundreds of resources available to college students, and most of the time they are at no extra cost.

I’m talking tutoring centers staffed by academic weapons, career counseling to help you land your dream job, and mental health services to keep you feeling your best. There are even workshops on everything from financial literacy to study skills. I can go on and on about the free resources but the ones that I have used to my advantage are the career counseling and the athletic counseling.

I have nailed multiple interviews because I always do a preparation interview with the career center on campus. This allows me to get my nerves out before the real thing. The athletic trainers were something I discovered late in my collegiate career. Several kinesiology majors need personal trainer hours so they’ll offer programs where they’ll match you with trainers to build you a work out. So while you’re getting one of a kind workouts they’re getting class credit.

**Read your emails! **

Now I know that this sounds like a given but you would be surprised by how many people don’t read any of the emails they get from their school. So before you hit delete, consider this: those emails might be hiding golden opportunities! By reading my email I have found surveys that if completed you get put into a raffle to win a prize. I have won 4 of the raffles in my 4 years at UK. It's not a lot, but sometimes, the prize is an expensive gift from the university.

Your college email is a gateway to exclusive events and hidden opportunities. For example, in my College of Fine Arts emails, I found a casting call for background roles in feature films! I also had the opportunity to do a ride along with the University of Kentucky Police Department where I got to shadow an officer and learn more about what they do to keep campus safe.

Talk about once-in-a-lifetime experiences waiting in your inbox!

There is a strong connection between hard work and luck. At AINC, we call this Luck Surface Area. This graph has a Y-axis, which shows how many people you know, and the X-axis, which shows what you do. Filling up this graph means knowing many people and doing a lot of stuff. Mine is pretty full as I have put myself out there and made the most of every opportunity given to me. If you take my tips and run with them, you will be surprised at how much you can accomplish with this extra effort, and fill up your own graph.

Always remember, college can feel like a whirlwind of classes, social activities, and figuring out your future. But as you can see, there's so much more to gain from the experience than just a degree. From free stuff and professional connections to hidden resources and unique opportunities, embrace ALL that your college has to offer. Get involved, explore everything you can, and make the most of this exciting chapter in your life.

College is an investment in yourself, and with the right approach, the return will be immeasurable.