Making the Most of Your College Experience

Studying in the United States presents international students with four years of unique opportunities to get involved in a community that pushes them to succeed. College is the perfect time for students to learn and grow through travel, new friends and experiences. These tips will help you make the most of your time studying in the United States.

Get Involved

Exploring programs your university offers will help you make new friends and establish a connection with your school. Whether you are interested in joining an intramural sports team, student government, cinema club or a debate team, colleges will have hundreds of options to best use your free time. At the beginning of the school year, most universities will host an organization fair where every club on campus will be recruiting new members. These events offer a glimpse into each organization, and will allow you to meet club members before you join to help you decide where you’ll fit best.

Network

To best prepare for your future, growing your professional network while in school is essential. Joining professional student organizations that correspond with your professional interests is a great place to start. For example, professional societies like the Society for Human Resource Management hold conferences and send out newsletters about industry happenings. Being proactive and interested in your college years can also help you get internships and jobs during school and after graduation.

Another way to make professional connections is to meet with your professors outside of class. Visiting your professors during their office hours will show your interest in their subject and give you the opportunity to learn from someone who has great experience in the field. Additionally, a professor is more likely to write a letter of recommendation if they know you are serious about your future in the industry.

Travel

Traveling overseas can be difficult during the academic year, making going home on breaks impossible for international students. However, using this time to travel within the United States can be a great opportunity to see more of the country. If you have time during academic breaks, consider taking different trips, such as skiing in Utah, seeing the Grand Canyon, exploring New York City or relaxing on Daytona Beach.  Utilizing sites like Kayak and Airbnb can help you find the best deals for your travel plans. It can also be fun to take weekend trips to nearby cities, beaches or attractions that you’ve never been to.

Getting involved at your university may also present travel opportunities. Leadership conferences and retreats are often held in exciting locations, depending on where your school is located. Organizations like the Global Brigades, a club where students provide basic medical assistance to impoverished communities all over the world, raise money and travel to the areas where they volunteer.

Volunteer

Volunteering is a tangible way to make a difference in the local community where your university is located. Some organizations like Feeding America, the Boys & Girls Club and Habitat for Humanity have opportunities all over the United States. Neighborhoods surrounding your university will also have individual needs and service opportunities that would benefit from your help. Volunteering can help you feel connected to the community you live in and show a new side of the place you’ll call home for the next several years.

Live Off Campus

Living off campus while studying at a university is a great way to save money, allowing you to spend more on activities around town or begin saving money for after graduation. Another way to maximize your budget is renting furniture. Furniture rental allows you to get exactly what you need, for as long as you need it, without overpaying for furniture.

Attending school in the United States promises opportunities to learn, explore and have fun. Make the most of your time by creating a college experience that is exciting and positions you for success in your future.

Margaret Schwartz is an experienced international traveler and Director of Marketing at CORT Furniture Rental, where she works directly with students and higher education institutions.

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