March 2, 2013
Let’s be real: College is confusing. By the end of it, we’re somehow supposed to figure out what we want to do in the world and major in something conducive to future jobs. If you haven’t had your “I don’t know what to do with my life” break down yet, brace yourself. The truth is we can’t do this on our own. No matter how independent we think we are, we all still live on meal plans in dorm rooms and (hopefully) go to class everyday with a sprinkling of some extracurricular activities here and there. College makes us feel independent because there aren’t any adults around telling us what to do. But that doesn’t mean we have to weather the storm alone. Besides the academic advisors provided to you from your school, there are a bunch of informal mentors all around you who can offer you advice as you figure out your career, life, and maybe just what you’re doing next semester. Truth is, anyone can be a resource to you if you let them be a part of your life. Here are some people to consider:
1. Past High School Teachers
If you haven’t sent any of your high school teachers an email since you’ve started college, have no fear! It’s never too late to reconnect with teachers, especially if you had a close relationship during your high school years. Your teachers knew you before your college transformation, and can offer insight into how you’ve changed and why that change occurred. They write killer recommendation letters (hey, remember how we needed those for college applications?). My high school history teacher is a huge influence on my life because he taught the classes that influenced me to pursue a history degree. We exchange emails quite often and he has great connections to potential jobs and other alumni from my high school. Utilize your old connections, and they may turn out to be the best people in your life.
Alright, I’m not going to repeat the old “go to office hours!” plea. We all know what it takes to gain a close relationship with your professors. My advice is to only pursue mentors that actually affect your life. If your history professor puts you to sleep, but your astronomy professor is the coolest person you’ve ever met, then go for your astronomy professor! Even if the person does not have anything to do with your major or career path, they may just be interesting people with great advice.
One of my mentors is an admissions officer at my school, and graduated a few years ago. Part of the reason why I love her (there are many!) is that she took every class known to man here. She had her good days and bad days on the same campus I roam and lived in the same dorm as I did. She provides me with great life advice, academic advice, and fashion advice. Alumni love talking about their college years, so go ahead and approach one! I’ll bet they went through all of the breakdowns you’re going through and then some.
4. Family Members
Parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents- anyone! With the background of already loving you, family members have the potential to provide you with both advice and lots of hugs. My family is filled with entrepreneurs and are really great with business advice. If your family is filled with doctors, lawyers, teachers, biologists- whatever the case, and you find yourself interested in the same topics, ask them about their college and career experience. Even if your aspirations don’t match up exactly, sometimes the best life advice comes out of conversations about even the most mundane topics. If you’re going home for Spring Break, utilize all of your resources around the dinner table.
5. Upperclassmen Friends
You know who knows the best dining hall on campus and which frats suck? That’s right. Your upperclassmen friends. They can tell you which classes changed their life, which professors actually help in office hours and even give you homework tips! They lived your life before you did, and are often really happy to guide you in the right direction. Make it a point to get to know as many upperclassmen as you can! You never know what opportunities might come your way and what amazing friendships might grow. Go beyond the all-freshman friend group!