Everyone has their own educational story. For me, it was someone who was never the top of her classes but was at least smart enough to excel in her studies. Looking back though, I wish my educational experience involved being more social and making more connections with my classmates and doing things that were out of my comfort zone.
Whether you’re attending high school, university, or any type of education, it’s going to be an educational experience. Here are five tips that can help you get through and make the most memorable educational experience during your stay.
Choose Your School (If You Can)
If you’re entering elementary or high school, chances are your parents or local government has a say in which school you attend. Don’t worry, I’ve been there before. In second grade, I hated my school and begged my mom to transfer me, but she refused because it was the best private Catholic school in our city. The best you can do at that point is to make the best out of what you have.
However, when it comes to post-secondary education, you might have more options for colleges, universities, or other institutions you want to attend. While it may be tempting to choose your school based on distance from your home or where your friends or boyfriend/girlfriend will be attending, it’s important to choose your school based on research. For example, a college in your area may have a prestigious name and have higher than average tuition fees, but their program for the degree you want maybe not as good as another college with a better degree program for a lower tuition fee.
If money is tight for your college education, it helps to do your research to get the most out of your college experience. This also applies to graduate school and post-graduate schools like law school, medical school, business school, and more. Remember: the cost of a certain school is not an indication of quality.
While you may not stay in contact with everyone you were classmates with, staying connected with friends and acquaintances may help you later in life. For example, one friend working for a company you want to apply for can refer your application directly to their HR. Or, an acquaintance could go on to work as a photographer or freelancer you may need for the future. Or, your connection could know another person you want to get close to for personal or work purposes. Regardless of what you need, having a large network of people can help you navigate the real world later in life.
However, that doesn’t mean you should only be rubbing elbows with people you think are bound to help you later in life. Focus less on building connections that are advantageous to you later in life and focus on meaningful connections with people you’d like to see down the road. Don’t worry too much about making connections with the potentially rich and powerful – if money and influence is the only reason you’ll want to stay in touch with someone (and not because of, say, their personality), then they’re not worth keeping as friends or connections down the road.
Live in the Moment
Your educational experience will affect you later in life, so make it a good one. You may be tempted to look at school the same way you’d look at work years from now: go in, do what you are required to do, and then get out. While it does serve the purpose of going to school, it can make your educational experience boring and monotonous.
Participate in extra-curricular organizations (especially for younger students, since this can affect your physical, cognitive, psychological, and social skills). Attend school events that fall in with your interests. You might think that these matters won’t mean anything when you graduate and find work. While that’s true to a certain degree, not only will active participation in your institution make it a more memorable educational experience, but it’ll also benefit you later in life.
Many students believe that focusing on academics alone will help them earn higher grades that can impress future employers. While a high GPA can get your foot on the door, you can only brandish your grades so many times before they realize you have nothing else that sets you apart. A high GPA may be enough to get you the job in some industries, but if you’re matched against another job applicant with your GPA and a lengthy extra-curricular list, your application will pale in comparison.
Nowadays, university admissions officers and employers are not just looking at grades. Because you may have been good at memorizing concepts and figures, but they also want to see more. Extracurricular activities tell them that you were social, were involved, and have interpersonal skills. It’s hard to teach someone to become a team player, for example, and a high GPA doesn’t assure employers that you can work well in a team. It also shows them that you have good time management skills and are willing to go the extra mile even if you aren’t required to do so. It also helps if you had experience as a leader of an organization, as it shows you have the potential for managerial skills in the future.
Don’t Compete Where It Doesn’t Matter
Everyone goes to school to learn. And while competition can be healthy, you don’t have to turn everything into a competition.
I’ve always hated that kid in the classroom who goes around asking people what their test scores are just to make sure they scored the highest. And if you’re a high school student doing that now, let me tell you: no one likes it when you do. Sure, you’ll feel better and feel a sense of pride that you did the best in a test. But not only does making tests a contest annoy the hell out of your classmates, but it leads to an unnecessary competition where you always feel the need to do better than everyone else.
Sure, being competitive can be healthy. But when you find yourself needing to excel to the point that you demand your peers’ attention and approval for every time you’re ahead or you need to sabotage or tear others down just to get ahead, then that isn’t healthy anymore.
Keep on Studying
According to Plato’s theory of education, education is a life-long process. Even after you’ve graduated formal education, that shouldn’t be an excuse for you to stop learning even while you’re at work. Moments of informal education like learning the processes at work is a given, but don’t hesitate to attend non-formal education opportunities, especially if they fall in line with your line of work or personal interests.
Take a class to improve your hobby. Attend conferences related to your job to learn from the experts in your field. Join events in your neighborhood community. There are plenty of non-formal educational opportunities that can further your educational experience long after you’ve graduated from formal education.
Your educational experience will be unique and depend on how you choose to go about with your education. So, if you want a memorable experience, don’t focus solely on the academic portion of your school and participate with what the school has to offer and use that time to build connections with people you like.