By Kathryn Cannon
At UnCollege, we recognize that some of our readers choose the college path. Some need it for licensing, some are on a scholarship, some are doing it in half the time; whatever the case may be, they believe it is the right choice for them. But just because you’re in school doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hack your education. Self-learners will propel their way to success no matter their environment. Here are 4 skills you should develop within the university system:
We like to talk a lot about networking. It’s important. College students have access to a massive network, but few use it well.
Connect with other students that are doing something interesting or are vocal about an issue you’re passionate about. Build a network of students who stand out from the crowd. You never know what value you might be able to exchange in the future.
Make friends with your professors, especially in your area of study. They can give you a more stimulating view of a topic, and speaking with them lets you hone your discussion abilities.
Finally, reach out to your college’s guest speakers. Colleges bring in anyone from local business owners to community figures to big name experts from around the country. Introduce yourself personally. Make an intelligent comment about their speech, and, if they’re local, see if they’d be interested in meeting for coffee. If not, give them your card and follow up with an email about why you enjoyed meeting them.
Start a Student Business
Most people don’t realize how easy it is to start a business. Just fill out a form or two and send a small fee to the secretary of state’s office. Then voila, you’re a business owner.
Starting a student business is a smart move: you learn a skill and much more importantly, make money. Additionally, you learn to communicate and sell your ideas; you learn to manage your supply of time and resources.
Make use of the resources around you: your peers might be your customer base, potential employees, or both. Take advantage of advice or feedback from professors. See if your university provides grants or other financial advantages for student business owners.
Lead a Student Organization
College is a great place to develop your leadership skills. Find a few other students who are interested in the same thing as you, and you can start your organization on practically anything and receive the financial support of the university. Then you can cultivate your leadership abilities while advocating something you’re passionate about.
Learn to Write Grants
College faculty often submit grant proposals for local, state, and federal funding. They usually have student assistants who assist with research and writing. By learning to write grants, you open yourself up to the possibility of working at a non-profit organization and helping them acquiring funding. You get to work directly with professors. You get the opportunity to practice articulating your ideas, supporting them with research, and selling them to others.
If you’ve explored the UnCollege movement at all, you know it takes more than a college degree to unlock your success. If you’ve decided to pursue the college route, don’t passively go through the four years. Be an undercover hackademic. Use the resources around you to develop skills and create opportunities, to invest in yourself and add value to your portfolio.