10 Things You Should Do in College as an Undergrad

April 1, 2014
by Chelsea Balderston

1. Join a club.

Making new friends in college can be a challenge. It’s not always easy to meet people in 300-seat lecture halls. One of the best ways to get plugged in with other students is by joining a club. At UC San Diego, there are clubs for almost any interest, from religious groups to professional organizations. Student organizations provide a unique opportunity to meet with other students outside of class who share similar beliefs, likes, or hobbies and are the perfect forum for making friends. The great news is, if UC San Diego doesn’t already have a club that interests you, you can always start your own!

2. Study abroad.

Every undergraduate student should take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. Studying abroad is a culturally enriching experience that benefits students, both personally and professionally. It enables students to gain international perspective, as well as acquire new language skills and network with people from all over the world. The best part is that students can even earn credit toward their major and minor!

3. Take a class just for fun.

Most of the classes people take as undergraduate students are classes that are required for graduation, whether they are major and minor courses or simply general education courses. Instead of just taking the bare minimum, why not try out a class simply because it sounds fun? UC San Diego offers numerous classes on varying topics such as cult films, contemporary dance, The Beatles, children’s literature and so much more. Who knows? You may discover a new passion!

4. Get to know your professors.

There is only so much you can learn in an hour-and-a-half-long lecture that meets twice a week. A great way to gain further insight into any topic is to meet with your professors outside of class and ask questions. Not only will this help you to better understand the material, it will show your professors that you are truly engaged in the course. Additionally, a professor who knows your name and recognizes that you actively participate in their class is more inclined to write a letter of recommendation for you in the future.

5. Volunteer.

Not only does volunteer work help boost a resume or graduate school application, but volunteering is a great way to really connect with your college and local community. There are so many opportunities to volunteer both on and off campus. Many student organizations participate in regular service projects, such as homeless outreach or cleaning up local beaches. You can even volunteer to give blood to the San Diego Blood Bank.

6. Play an intramural sport.

UC San Diego Recreation offers a wide variety of intramural sports ranging from flag football to bowling and just about everything in between. Not only do intramurals provide the perfect opportunity to meet other students while staying active, they are a great way to try something new. Almost all intramural sports have both men’s and women’s leagues, as well as a coed league, so there’s something for everybody!

7. Participate in university events.

UC San Diego constantly strives to maintain a climate of inclusiveness and provide a sense of community to all students. One of the ways they do this is through numerous campus-wide events each year. At any given moment there is something going on at UC San Diego, whether it’s performance art, diversity awareness, a fundraiser or a sporting event. The most anticipated of these events is the annual Sun God Festival which features performances by popular musical artists, DJs and dancers, as well as a battle of the bands competition. With so many events, there are always ways to get involved.

8. Get work experience.

Gaining work experience during college is highly beneficial to students both while they are in school and after they graduate. Aside from helping students become more financially independent, work experience gives students a competitive edge in the job market and grad school applications, and provides students with a diverse skill-set. There are many different work opportunities available to students. Students can hold on-campus jobs or use internships to count toward class credit through the Academic Internship Program (AIP).

9. Remember that getting good grades is important, but learning is more important.

Studying and working hard are essential to earning good grades, but even more important than good grades is what you take away from a class. It’s possible to cram the day before an exam and do well, but in the long-run you most likely will not retain any of the information. It’s much better to take an active role in your learning by participating in class, attending office hours and truly engaging in the material. While you’re here, you might as well make the most out of your education.

10. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself!

College is a time unlike any other. With it comes independence, but without the responsibility of a full-time job. College only lasts for four years for most people, so while it’s important to excel in school, it’s also important to enjoy the journey.