Home > College, sport management > Making the most of your college experience

Making the most of your college experience

As my college education nears its end (May of 2011), I have recently been doing a lot of thinking about how I could have made more of it. Let’s be honest, college is expensive and it doesn’t take a private detective to figure that out. Since it costs so much to attend college, why not make the most of it?
I personally have recently begun to realize how I could have made better choices throughout my college experience which will shape my entry and employment in the professional job market. I realize that as a Junior I am not finished yet and can still make changes to my education, however, had I come to these realizations a year or two earlier I feel I would be much more comfortable. Granted, as a freshman or sophomore, the majority of kids are still caught up in the awe of being in college, being away from parents and being unsupervised. I personally did this as well, focusing more so on taking easy classes, filling the requirements, and doing just enough to get by.

If I could go back and change some things, thus far, in my college education here are a few things I would do:

1. Pick up at least one other minor. Right now I have a minor in Spanish (and a major in Sport Management). The real reason why I picked up the minor was because, all through high school I took spanish and found it interesting. When I got to college I decided to stick with it because I enjoy it. It was not brought to my attention until half way through my junior year that I only need six courses within this area to count it as a minor. My first reaction was, six classes? If I had known it was only six classes I would have taken up four other majors! In talking about this idea with a family member, who happens to be a Professor at Northeastern University, it was brought to my attention that taking all these minors gets lost in the shuffle. It is useful to have two minors, but after that it could be a little excessive. In the end, however, I do wish I had another minor. It is not difficult to pick up another minor (all colleges and universities are different with their minor requirements, so talk to your advisor) and it can definitely be beneficial in the long run. Take for instance an employer looking at two equally qualified applicants. One has only a Sport Management major, and one has a Sport Management Major and a Business minor as well. The Business minor is important in the sporting field where the business concepts are directly relevant to everyday operations. The bottom line is, talk to your advisor, think about what you want to do and if you don’t know, look at a few different things. I personally wish I had looked into a minor in Business or Marketing, to compliment my Sport Management concentration.

2. Make the most of your credits. In college, credits are expensive. Some can range into the thousands of dollars per credit. Don’t take useless classes, take things that are interesting to you and potentially useful in the field that you wish to enter. I would say one of the most useful courses I have taken is First Aid and Safety. I was CPR/AED Certified at the end of it, it was interesting, and it is directly relevant to sports, as we all know how frequent sports injuries occur. Every once in a while, it is okay to take a break or not have a semester that is going to kill you, but don’t drop the ball and lose sight of the ultimate goal of college: to prepare yourself for the real world.

3. Understand the purpose and importance of college. College is intended to prepare you for the real world and get you ready for the job market. College should not be used as a time to relax, enjoy yourself, drink excessively without being called an alcoholic or lounge around on the weekends. The time spent in college should be utilized making contacts, broadening your knowledge and making the most of it. With costs of college ranging from a few thousand to upwards of 50 or 60,000 dollars per year, make the most of what you are paying for. If you want to do drink and be lazy, take a year off and do it, then go to college after. I am not saying at all that kids should not have fun in college. College has been one of the best times of my life, but I do wish I had put just a little extra effort into my schoolwork.

4. Get involved. Balancing time is a huge problem for kids, especially for some who have never lived away from home with parents to push them along. Many students have time management issues, constantly having to fight off procrastination, resulting in late nights of studying. It has been proven that kids with more on their plate balance their time more effectively, resulting in an improvement of grades. This should not be the only reason for doing things outside of classes, but it is a legitimate point. Colleges and universities offer hundreds of different activities geared solely towards the benefit and enjoyment of the students, so make the most of it. Join some clubs, get involved, and get active. Intramural sports are a great way to expend some energy. I personally participate in an organization called REACH Peer Education which focuses on how to get college students to live in a more healthy manner. Another great point about joining these clubs is you get to meet other kids, who are often very similar to yourself. I have met some very close friends participating in intramural sports, along with other activities on campus. Talk to campus activities or go on the college website to find out more information about getting involved.

5. Get in touch. Although you may not think it right now, college professors are extremely intelligent people, who have a lot to bring to the table. This can be lost in the fact that the majority of students can’t get past the fact that their college professor just assigned 300 pages of reading due in two days. Looking past the work done in class, get to know your professors. I would say it is much easier at a school such as mine (only 1,800 students) to get in touch, but still make an effort. Professors like when students come after class for extra help or to ask questions because it shows they care and are interested. Professors are also great contacts to make, as many of them know a lot of people in the fields in which you wish to enter (a great networking tool right at your fingertips). If you find a particular job you may be interested in, ask your professors if they know anyone in that area, and maybe they can introduce you. Your professors are another great resource in attempting to shape your direction in which you wish to go (professionally). The majority of professors have held many jobs in their field of study, so go ask some questions and find some information.

6. Internships. My school requires three internships throughout the four year tenure of a student. Two of these internships are winter internships (120 hours long). The final internship, often completed during senior year, is a full semester long internship. Some schools do not require internships but they are extremely useful in helping you as a student gage what direction you wish to go in. My freshman year I had a major of Criminal Justice so I did my first internship at a court. I switched to Sport Management in my sophomore year, so I was a little bit behind. In choosing internships, I find that I was always waiting until the last minute to start looking. This would result in me having to settle for an internship that was not as potentially useful as I could have acquired. Start your internship search early and ask around. Ask people if they know of places you could work at or know people employed by potential internship sites. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Internships force you to accept the responsibilities you would normally take on working in the job, but for a shorter amount of time. They are great opportunities to meet people, learn to interact in the organization, and gain experience in the field (amongst many other benefits of internships). One other great benefit is they help you build a resume. Doing internships can help you decide whether or not you want to stay in this major, what direction you wish to go with it, and help you understand what you will be doing upon entrance into the workforce. The bottom line is do some internships and gain some experiences, as they will be extremely valuable to you in your professional career.

I hope these points can be of use to you, as I wish I had realized all of these things earlier. Enjoy and give me some feedback!

  1. Boyun Woo
    April 9, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Many nice points! Dan, really.. Nothing is too late. I still have things that I wish I’d done differently even last week! Let’s all try to focus on what we can do now. 🙂

  2. Ryan Burke
    April 15, 2010 at 11:42 am

    As a colleague in a similar situation, I often think about aspects I could have improved upon. There are many great points made in this article, and I would recommend it to anyone that is about to enter college or just entered college.

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