Although it seems like it lasts forever, college is just a transitional point between high school and a larger, more successful career. To that end, it’s important to begin transitioning your mindset from college as high school 2.0 to college as your 9-5 job. This small change in mindset and behaviors will put you far ahead of your peers and help you adopt a new focus on your studies as a means for lifelong learning, as I’ve written about before. Here are some ways to switch your mindset over to considering college your job.
Dress for Success: As the old adage goes, dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Whereas some college students will regularly roll up to class in sweatpants, gym clothes, or straight up pajamas, take the opportunity to practice dressing in a professional fashion. Business casual clothing won’t make you a spectacle, but it will indicate to your peers and your professors that you’re taking the class and your work more seriously. It’s also been demonstrated that when you dress better, you hold yourself to higher standards and perform better on exams.
Treat 9 AM to 5 PM like business hours: College students are ignominious for the odd hours they keep, from late-night study sessions to oddly-scheduled naps. No professional keeps such peculiar hours, and there’s no need for you to either. Wake up at a regular morning hour, say 8 AM, and be in “work mode” until around 5 PM. That means that during those hours, most of your time is spent in class, studying, or otherwise attending appointments. You won’t have to pull all-nighters if you schedule your time such that during the day you work, and in the evenings you finish the few tasks you have left over and get to bed at a decent hour.
Speak to your friends like colleagues. In no workplace is it appropriate to gossip about hook-ups or brag about drunken misadventures, so consider keeping such discussions time and place appropriate. During work hours and especially around higher ups like professors and administrators, keep the conversation topics professional and mind how you talk about others when they’re not present.
Mind what you put online: While the first amendment protects your rights to say what you want, it doesn’t shield you from consequences. People’s opinion of you may change drastically if you bad-mouth a peer or higher-up, or if you fill your online presence with crude images and base humor. As I’ve mentioned before in my blogs, you can get a head start on this in college by taking control of your online presence and honing it until it accurately reflects who you are.
Always look forward: How is what you’re doing today preparing you for the job you want? In business, employees are always looking for ways to position themselves so that when an opportunity comes along, they’re prepared to take it. You can treat your college career the same way. Whether your idea of a “promotion” is being asked to present on a panel, lead a club, or consider an internship, there is ample opportunity for upward movement as long as you mind your Ps and Qs so that you’re prepared when the time is right.
Study those you admire: Look for the people around you who hold positions either in title or in esteem and learn from them. The same way you should study with the smartest kid in the class, you should think about what practices, behaviors, or character traits benefit that person and consider how they apply to your life. A similar concept applies in the professional world — you should take notes on dressing and behaving for the job you want from someone who has the job you want.