College should be a time of incredible growth, learning, listening, failing, connecting and creating. It brings times of confusion, doubt, pain, mistakes and heartaches. But when I think about my overall college experience, the positive things come to mind: the relationships with amazing people and awesome opportunities. We can think about the dorm room decorations, grabbing coffee with friends, getting involved in organizations or Greek life, studying into the early hours of the morning or staying fit and healthy in college. But I’m here to tell you something different that changed my perspective on college and campus living.
My number one (unconventional) advice for college students would have to be:
Get involved off campus!
Break out of the campus bubble and start to build relationships with the surrounding area or town where you live. While getting involved with campus activities is super important in college, keep your life balanced by finding opportunities outside your college world.
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I realized freshman year that sometimes it had been forever since I’d seen families out and about with little kids or people who were not students, professors, or staff. It is so important to realize that although you are a college student and you have many opportunities for you and your future, the world is still turning. And there are some awesome ways to get involved in the communities just beyond your campus backyard. Here are some tips if you are looking to expand your community, see what life is like out of college or keep a balanced, healthy life.
1. Find a job off campus.
This can be as simple as searching wanted ads on your school’s website, as many businesses or people post job offerings to students. Also, you can join sites like Sittercity or Care.com to meet a family and babysit. Making these connections helps you know what’s happening in your neighborhood-whether there is a concert or festival happening one weekend or the state fair is coming!
2. Get connected with a church community.
College is often a time when many lose the routine of going to church on Sundays and getting involved in a church community. I have loved getting off of campus when I went to church on Sundays, and I even had the chance to intern there, which also gave me professional experience. Staying connected spiritually in college, especially in a church community, with a variety of people to support you is so important to maintain a balanced life. It can help you get some perspective with issues happening on campus, with classes or at home.
3. Set up informational interviews with professionals in your field.
This is an awesome chance to meet people living and doing a job that you may have in the future! They have a wealth of information and they can serve as a contact for future job searches after college. Building these relationships give a peek into what life is like after you graduate, and it can offer perspective on your choices from day to day.
4. Connect with bloggers or people online!
I have loved connecting with bloggers through email and interacting on their sites and social media. Sending emails back and forth to bloggers helps to really get to know the person behind the screen. I have also loved meeting a blogging friend in real life and in the process getting to know each other better and building a blogger support systems. Going to blog meet ups is another way to get connected with this community. Sometimes it’s easier to talk about different things with bloggers or people online, and I love hearing others’ opinions and thoughts about growth, faith, transitions, healthy living, minimalism and other important life topics.
5. Take a journey off campus and explore!
The best way to get off campus is to just have fun with a trip to a new place. Go hiking in a nearby state park or hit the beach! Try different things and try to look for opportunities to meet new people in the process. I promise, getting off campus and traveling helps you come back refreshed and ready to take on lots of work for your classes and organizations! Here are 8 Road Trips Every College Student Needs To Take.
What do you think about the campus/off-campus balance in college? What was it like for you in college? Did you get involved outside of campus activities?