blog postsThings I’d do over: Tips for making the most of your time on campusJun 5, 2017 2:15 pm by Laura LoVetereShare on FacebookTweetEmailImagesOn December 17, 2016, I was officially a college graduate. Since then, I have been living the “grown-up” life — I started a career, moved to another state, and even made my own dentist appointment yesterday. I hadn’t thought much about this next phase of life until cap and gown pictures of the newest graduating class started springing up on my social media feeds. I couldn’t help but tear up at the thought that college is over. I don’t want to be dramatic and say they were the best four years of my life because I don’t know what's still in store for me. But what I do know is that I made memories at the University of Illinois that I wouldn’t have made otherwise. I loved every second of my time here and I wish I could go back and do it all over again. However, there are a few things I know now that I wish I could take back with me to the start of my college journey. 1. Stay for a summer I would have finished my requirements a lot faster if I had decided to stay on campus and take a few classes the summer after my freshman or sophomore year. There are also a ton of opportunities to intern, volunteer, and work in the Champaign-Urbana community. 2. Get a job freshman year and stick with it all 4 years Whether it be at Cocomero, Firehaus, or Starbucks (like me!) you’ll make good friends (because you see them all the time), you’ll get great perks (like discounts) in addition to getting paid, and you’ll have the chance to work your way up to become a supervisor or even a manager. 3. Use your winter breaks wisely Online Winter Break courses are a great way to knock out elective classes so you have more room in your schedule for classes related to your major or other interesting classes that you want to take. Set up a job shadow or “winternship” to help you figure out your future career and companies you would like to possibly work for. Learn a language. There are lots of online resources you can use such as Duolingo. Rosetta Stone is also free to use for University of Illinois student. You can find more information on that through the University of Illinois library. If foreign language isn’t your thing, you can learn another type of language, coding, through online resources such as codeacademy.org. Take a course on Lynda.com. It’s free for U of I students, and if you complete certain courses (such as Microsoft Excel, Word, and more), you can add them to your LinkedIn account to show to potential employers. Get a head start on career fairs. You can prepare in advance by researching the companies that recruit on campus and networking tips that will help you shine. Make sure to check out what the company does, what kinds of internships they offer (and compare them to your own interests), and where their offices are located. 4. Take classes that interest you (even if they’re not related to your major!) Illinois offers a huge variety of classes. I’ve heard the flower arrangement class is fun! 5. Complete as many internships as possible These internships will help you develop skills outside of the classroom and give you experiences to speak to when it comes time to interview for your first job after graduation. During these interviews, you will speak about your time as an intern and the skills you acquired while working for these companies. 6. Choose a major you love Your major is just one step in the direction you want to take. Don’t overthink it, just make it something you love. 7. Go to office hours Keep going to office hours and build relationships with your professors, even for classes that aren’t your favorite. Those classes may land you a job in the future and letters of recommendation may come in handy! 8. Study for the GRE, MCAT, MBA, LSAT etc. Make time to study for the GRE (or other post-graduation test) if you plan on attending graduate school. The earlier you start preparing, the better off you will be. Remember, college is only for four years, but make them the best four you possibly can! The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers more than 70 majors and provides a world-class interdisciplinary education that prepares students for lives of impact. Learn more about LAS.