1. Get To Know Your Professors (at least three of them, anyway)
In the throes of the college experience, job references are probably the furthest thing from your mind. Worst case, you can simply jot down a friend’s name…until they mention your uncanny knack for writing term papers under the influence. Erm, right. Strike up a real friendship with your favorite faculty members and you’ll be assured stellar references down the line.
2. Study Abroad Or At Least Travel
That whole “the world is flat” thing is kind of a big deal. Ask any veteran businessperson, and they’ll tell you globalization is in vogue. So why not experience Barcelona, Paris, or Amsterdam firsthand with a few of your classmates? You’ll broaden your horizons, brush up on a new language, and get a head start on legal drinking.
3. Explore Your Interests
An untapped interest in underwater basket weaving? A lingering inclination to pursue zorbing (a.k.a human hamster-balling)? Now’s the time. College is all about experimentation and probably the only time in your “adult” life when it’s okay to blow weekdays waddling around a field with a broomstick for a friendly Quiddich match on the quad.
4. Drop The High-School Reputation
Captain of the varsity cheerleading squad? Drum major for the marching band? Or simply urber geek? About that — nobody cares. Shed the ego or insecurities as soon as you step on campus because everyone is starting with a blank slate.
5. Make Your Study Time Count
If you’re going to cordon yourself off in the dreaded library cubicle among the ancient-books section, at least make the most of it. That means resisting the temptation to refresh your Facebook and Twitter feed every few minutes or G-chatting your friend about that killer frat party last night.
6. Get An Internship … Or Better Yet A Job
Once you hit the nine-to-five grind, employers simply don’t care that you broke the curve in your accounting course. They will, however, be wowed when you show initiative, come to work prepared, and understand how to do things their way. Nothing beats on-the-job training when it comes to performing the mundane tasks that make up the real world.
7. Set Up A LinkedIn Account
This is the Facebook of the business world. It’s a virtual networking happy hour without the small talk. Create a complete profile early, and by senior year, you’ll no doubt have a full roster of connections while your peers are still setting up their password.