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College bucket list – 20 ways to get the most out of your time

college bucket list

Going to college is a rite of passage to adulthood for most people. It’s fun, difficult, challenging, rewarding and full of twists including spontaneous road trips. Time also flies so fast when you are in college that it’s over before you know it. Before the time comes that you’ll be too busy applying for work or postgraduate studies, take time to list the things you want to do as a college student. There’s still time to catch up and get the most of the collegiate experience with the help of this ultimate college bucket list.  

1. Live on Campus for a Year or Two

Colleges and universities nowadays combine online classes and in-person classes. 

For first-year students, living on campus may be more of a requirement than an option. This rule is supposed to help them adjust to college life with facilities, activities, services, etc. more accessible to them.

Supposing you have a choice to live in a dorm or residence hall, the top reasons for doing so are:

  • Dorms are less expensive to live in than off-campus apartments, if you take into account the monthly costs for internet access, electricity, etc., to make living more comfortable.
  • On-campus residents don’t worry about food or cooking because meal plans are included in the room and board. 
  • Your roommates can be your first college friends and other dorm residents’ sources of information about school stuff.

2. Rent a House with Friends

Being a college student means exercising more responsibility and enjoying more independence.

It’s a totally different experience to be living off-campus with fewer and less rigid rules. You may have a bedroom all to yourself and not worry about coming home late or annoying your roommate.   

The cost of renting becomes less burdensome financially when you ask your friends to move in with you. Living with your friends in one house has these perks:

  • Save money on rent.
  • Afford bigger living space. 
  • Spread the cost of food/groceries.
  • Share things – ask for permission first.
  • Learn or develop skills, like communication, budgeting, cooking, and home repair/maintenance. 

3. Join a Club

Whether you want to hone your leadership skills, overcome your shyness, or do extracurricular stuff, join a club. This club membership lets you establish roots in your community.

University-based organizations can be centred on academics, sports, hobbies, creative pursuits, and other shared interests. There are also honour societies, often on an invitation-only basis, whose main criterion for entry is academic excellence in one’s discipline. 

The benefits of joining a club will be for nought if you are not going to actively participate in its activities. Holding leadership roles, as backed by projects and accomplishments, will also look good on your resume.

4. Volunteer

Volunteering enables you to give back to the community, whether near or far. Doing volunteer work can be teaching kids, working in animal shelters, organizing projects for charitable organizations, or giving your skills or time for free. 

Despite the lack of monetary reward, volunteering offers these benefits:

  • It facilitates experiential learning. 
  • It helps you gain or develop technical skills, hard skills, soft skills, and transferable skills.
  • It builds your portfolio.

Not everything you did as a volunteer will be counted as work experience, but the more relevant skills and experiences you should put in your resume. In that regard, consider taking a volunteer position relevant to your field.

5. Get Comfortable with Public Speaking

Being able to communicate effectively is indispensable in everyday life. From classmates, professors, roommates, recruiters, to people you meet in parties or career fairs, you have to talk to them at some point.

Speaking in front of a group, let alone a crowd is nerve-wracking. It’s normal to feel these nerves, butterflies in your stomach, or other signs of speech anxiety. But the only way to overcome the fear of public speaking is to actually do it. 

Practice, practice, practice, especially before any speech. Make the most of class presentations and reports, take part in debates, or even run for student council to build your confidence and composure in speaking 

6. Stay Up All Night Cramming for Finals

Despite all good intentions and fair warnings about cramming, you end up pulling an all-nighter or two and hope that you’ll ace your exams the next day. 

Whether it’s by choice or circumstances that leave you with no choice but to cram, here’s how to do it effectively:

  • Have a plan. Dedicate time to allot your time per subject and organize your notes.
  • Sleep. Get as much of it, especially the night before.
  • Skip drinking coffee at night; drink lots of water instead. 
  • Study in a brightly lit, well-ventilated room.
  • Exercise. Or take breaks. 

More importantly, don’t drive when you are sleep-deprived.

7. Make Friends with a Professor You Like

Being friends with your college instructors is not really unusual, although there are ethics involved. Teachers are supposed to provide fair treatment to all their students, and you have to be mindful of personal boundaries.

There is no formula on how to be friends with your professor, but you can start by being engaged in their class. Perhaps stick around a bit after the lecture to get more insights on a certain concept, or utilize office hours. And even if you have graduated, keep in touch.

Having a professor friend means gaining a wise pal who likely has interesting stories and lessons to tell. This person can be your mentor or recommend you to one. And they may be willing to write a recommendation letter or act as your character reference.

8. Freelance

Freelancing opportunities are plenty and diverse for a college student keen on making money. This extra cash can go to books, clothes, school supplies, living expenses, savings, and more.

Being a freelancer is on one’s own time-and-pace basis, which works well with a student’s hectic schedule. The barrier to entry is also low because the tools required to start freelancing, primarily laptop and internet connectivity, are must-have student things. 

Some online freelance jobs for a college student are:

  • Audio and video transcription
  • Customer service/support
  • Data entry 
  • Editing (Manuscripts, articles, videos, photos) 
  • Graphic design
  • Marketing 
  • Paid surveys
  • Teaching English, foreign language 
  • Translation
  • Tutoring
  • Virtual assistant
  • Web design/development
  • Writing/Blogging

9. Find a Mentor

Mentorship underscores the need for students to have guidance and support, kind of like having someone show them around a new environment. 

Selecting a mentor is not that simple nor is it similar to having a coach, as discussed here. This mentor helps the mentee set or define goals and guide them in making choices relating to their careers (but not handing them solutions or solving the problems themselves).  

You may not have to look further to find a mentor as the professor you like or your academic advisor can be one. Despite the gap in experience and wisdom, the relationship is anchored on mutual trust and respect and that includes listening to each other.

 10. Write a Letter to Your Future Self to Open on Graduation

Writing this letter is one way to shake off any stress about college, career, and the future. Your dreams, expectations, goals – record them all for posterity and use this letter as a motivation to achieve what you set out to do.

Anyway you would have filled numerous pages metaphorically or otherwise by the time you read the letter your former self wrote to your future self. 

11. Network 

Yes, you can certainly network during college and tap information exchanges among classmates, professors, and the like for job opportunities and related prospects. 

Creating this social network or community is about building connections, which require more than just introducing yourself and collecting people’s numbers. Just like you, other college students are also building theirs, too, so you really have to prove yourself as a valuable contact.  

To connect with like-minded people, you have to step out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. Display leadership or teamwork in class projects, take part-time jobs, attend networking events, the list goes on.

12. Learn to Cook

Living on your own compels you to cook because you can’t depend on takeouts every time. Also, it puts the kitchen in your rented apartment to good use.

College students often cite their busy schedule as keeping them from eating on time or getting a balanced diet. Cooking your meals may change all that or at least improve your eating habits.

Some cooking tips for you:

  • Learn a handful of recipes, preferably those that are easy to prepare and require fewer kitchen appliances. 
  • Buy groceries to save money, but allot time for cooking. 
  • Cook in batches and freeze meals. 

13. Make Friends with People from All over the World

An essential college experience is making new friends on-campus, in-person, abroad, or online. 

Classes bring locals, exchange students, and foreigners studying in your university together. Internships abroad also give you time to establish friendships with the people there. The same goes for a remote internship: you’ll still interact with professionals based in the area. 

Having international friends of diverse nationalities and languages not only enhances your tolerance, your experiences interacting with them help you deal with new people in a new environment. 

14. Discover a New Culture

This should be a major item on your college bucket list, and travelling easily ticks the box.

But you may not have to wander far for now because you can still experience new cultures by doing the following:

  • Start with your campus. Compare what you’ve heard about the school before, e.g., perceptions and stereotypes and what you’re experiencing and seeing. 
  • Venture into town. Explore how your school/uni has shaped the character and vibe of the area.
  • Visit an ethnic neighbourhood nearby to sample cuisines or buy local products. 
  • Attend events and activities that seek to introduce or deepen understanding of a culture.

15. Enroll In a Random Class

The path to academic excellence is arduous, and taking a class that is off the beaten track can be that respite.  

There’s a long list of weird, strange, or oddly fascinating classes, including but not limited to:

  • Pop culture: Beyonce, Taylor Swift, KPop, Game of Thrones, Mean Girls 
  • Science fiction: surviving zombie apocalypse, Star Trek philosophy 
  • Hobbies: beekeeping, tree climbing, anime/manga, circus arts
  • Food: pizza, ice cream, pasta

Wasting time on the internet, walking, watching TV, making people laugh, taking selfies – there’s probably a random course in your university that you want to check out. 

16. Go to a Career Fair

Career fairs are some of the foremost events in your college life. These are venues connecting you to employers and recruiters with the end goal of getting an offer or at least being included in their talent pool.

In recent times career fairs are held virtually, and the process differs from the traditional in-person events. Check out these differences to make the necessary preparations: 

  • If you are physically required to attend an in-person career expo, organized by the university or a third party, the virtual one requires you to log into a platform and remain online for a one-on-one chat, etc. 
  • With the usual career fairs, you have to approach booths, introduce yourself, hand out your resume, and inquire about employment/internship opportunities. In virtual career fairs, you’ll upload your resume in advance and sign up to get into a virtual queue to talk with the recruiter/company representative.

Whether it’s for online or in-person events, dress and act like a pro with an updated resume, portfolio, and prior research on the company. 

17. Join a Study Group

Information is better retained when shared. An indication that you have grasped the concept is when you are able to talk and discuss it with others who can fill the gaps, correct mistakes, and offer their takes. 

Some people are really good at organizing their notes and making study guides. This is a great chance for you to tap this important resource and a challenge to do better in making yours.

For your study sessions to be effective, come prepared and provide support to others. This way you keep yourself motivated to study and avoid procrastination knowing that your input is needed by the group.

18. Learn a New Language

It’s advantageous to be fluent in another language for studying or working abroad. With so many resources available online, including classes you can take, getting started with a new language is even more convenient.

The following benefits will motivate you to learn a second or third language:

  • It compels you to study, build vocabulary, and practice writing and speaking. 
  • It reminds you to be patient and persistent if you want to move up a level. 
  • It teaches you about multitasking, as in switching between two languages.  
  • It expands your network to include people who know or speak the language.
  • It helps the brain, like making grey matter denser.

19. Study Abroad

Your university is your first link to study-abroad programs. Visit your school’s website to find programs by country/city, GPA, and so on. Check financial-aid programs or scholarships to defray the costs of the program. Also, look into student exchange programs with your uni’s partner universities.

While you are abroad, you may as well gain professional experience. Think about securing your dream paid internship at your favourite location to build your resume as a student and pave the way for more job opportunities in the future. 

Whether you study, work, or do both at the same time, consider your decisions’ impact on your academic timeline. Get support from your school’s career services or advisor.  

20. Travel the World 

Adventures, challenges, wins, and learnings in and outside the classroom are calling you from the other side of the world. Travelling outside of your comfort zone during college is one of the best immersive experiences for your present and future self. 

It’s the intangibles like the interpersonal skills, practical life hacks, work ethics, cultural differences, and perspectives that you’ll take home and apply to your academic and working life.

Depending on your destination and supposing you have your finances lined up, exploring new worlds is not as expensive as it seems. 

Final Thoughts

College represents a crucial point in one’s life and carries a lot of pressure and expectations. To balance things out, it offers happy, exciting, and crazy moments if you are willing to try.Study, save money, seek out opportunities, see the world. What’s on your college bucket list?



Aubrey i​s a writer and a regular contributor. She writes on topics on job searching and career development in hopes to provide better tips on job hunting and career development.

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