How To College: Our Tips, Tricks, & Advice

October 20, 2017

This Wednesday marked our first professional development workshop of the quarter: our How To College Workshop, where our Exec Team shared the lessons they've learned during their collegiate careers. At the end of the night, we had breakout sessions for major-specific advice and Q&A, from STEM fields to sales to information systems.



The transition from high school to college can be overwhelming, to say the least. Everything is thrown at you at all at once and you need to build a whole new world for yourself. Especially at a huge school like the University of Washington, it can take more than just freshman year to settle in and figure out "how to college." So where do you start?


Find your path:

Whether you're trying to pick a major, or just picking a concentration in Foster, it's easy to feel decision paralysis. What if you have a ton of interests? What if you make the wrong decision? Makoto Také, our VP of Student Development, offered these tips to help all those choices seem a little more manageable.

  • Make a list of 20+ things you’d like to accomplish in life, then circle 5 that are most important to you to focus on. Having those priorities in mind will help you decide what path will really help you reach your goals.

  • It’s okay to change your path. It’s better to switch majors than stick with a degree and set of prereqs you’re unhappy with. 

  • Your major also doesn’t lead to just one career. When you graduate with a finance degree, there are jobs that require financial skills across all industries. 

  • Don’t underestimate the value of taking classes outside your major or even committing to a minor. It’ll just open your opportunities—and your future—even more. 


“If you’re going to spend four years studying something, you should make it something you’re interested in.” —Chandler Sipes, VP of Sponsorship


How To Make The Most of Your First Year: 

  • Test your limits, but don't feel like you have to jump in all at once. You can build up to your challenges so you're ready to take them on. 

  • Networking doesn't just mean connecting with professionals; try connecting with your peers, too. During your four years here, you'll learn from them, work with them, and might even end up at the same internship or job with them. Life is better with company.

  • Get involved but not over involved. It’s better to be fully committed to just a few things instead of half-committed to a bunch of activities. It’ll be better for both you and the leadership of those clubs or teams.


"It's never too early to start." —Jordan Koch, Co-President


Use Your Resources:  

  • Office hours aren't just for specific subject-matter questions—you can also get to know your teachers or gain insight about how to succeed in the class. Ask:

    • “What should people be asking?”

    • “What’s your best advice?”

    • “What are the biggest mistakes you see people make in that class?”

  • If the class is in a field you're interested in, your professor is also a great person to ask for industry and career insight.

  • If your professor is too intimidating or their office hours don't work with your schedule, TA’s are a valuable resource too: many of them already took that class and aced it, so they'll be able to tell you how to make the most of the quarter


"You'll get out what you put in." —Will Wilson, Co-President


Study Tips: 

  • Find out how you focus and how you learn. Do you need silence or background noise? Do you study better in a library or a coffeeshop? At home or on campus?

  • Don’t underestimate the value of reviewing—go over your notes, make flashcards, make sure you really understand what’s happening in class. Taking a few minutes after lecture to summarize that day's material can make a huge difference.

  • Treat school like a full-time job—that way you can finish every day feeling accomplished & avoid procrastination.


“College is about finding out how you learn.” —Makoto Také, VP of Student Development


The Exec Team’s Best Advice:  

  • Chandler: Do your assigned readings & take care of your mental health. 

  • Katherine: Handwriting your notes helps you process & remember better—plus if your computer crashes right before finals, you won't lose everything.

  • Hannah: Take advantage of opportunities as soon as possible so you can figure out what you like and dislike.

  • Kori: Try to find balance between school & social life. 

  • Will: Take time for yourself to avoid burnout and overwhelming yourself.

  • Jordan: Study abroad—and start looking into it early to find your best options.


The big takeaway:


“Don’t get caught up with all the fish around you; think about the ocean we’re in.” —Makoto

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