How to Achieve Self-Actualization in College

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

For whatever reason, our society has deemed the ripe ol’ age of 18 an appropriate one to discover the answer to that question through higher education. It’s an extremely unfair expectation in my opinion, but that’s a conversation for another day. I, for one, was a bit underprepared for the expectations of college.

So how can students get on the right path to self-actualization at such a young age?

Ohio University

Ohio University

Arriving at Self-Actualization

Lately, I’ve found myself dishing out quite a bit of advice on the topic (still can’t decide if this is a wise move for the parties who’ve inquired). In particular, I’ve taken counsel to my younger sis, who has entered into her sophomore year of college. When I look back on my time at college, nearly all positive thoughts, experiences, and nostalgia reign supreme; however, buried down there somewhere might be a regret or two.

I can’t say I’m fully on board with the old cliché “live life with no regrets”. I think that there is a natural human inclination to regret some things in the past, rendering the ability to live out such a mantra as pretty unrealistic. It’s fine to have these regrets– the key to it all is to not dwell on them, or let them linger and slowly eat away at what makes you, “you.” Learn from them and prosper. Or, in my case, turn whatever “what ifs” I have about my college experience and transform them into actionable advice for a loved one. So I’ve done my best to put together five tips for those who really want to enhance their chances of figuring out… things…

5 Tips to Get There in College

  1. Cultivate relationships with not only your peers, but your professors. Some of my greatest pals are my college pals. Cherish that forever. But don’t forget about the importance of establishing and nurturing relationships with your college professors. These good folks are at the pinnacle of human intelligence– true masters of their given field of expertise and beyond. Pick their brains before class, after class, whenever you have the time. Get to know them as human beings, and not because you want to leverage a relationship for networking or some bullocks along those lines; get to know them because they will mold you and make you better.
  2. Go beyond just joining organizations; immerse yourself in them. I was in a few organizations, sat in the back, and put it on my résumé. Yay! And you know how many companies asked me about my role in the American Marketing Association? None. But I sorely wish I would have actually done something in these organizations. You don’t have to be the president of the business frat or the treasurer of the IT club. Go there to make new friends with like-minded individuals and grow with them. And make sure you at least check out a range of differentiated organizations outside of your major, even if you don’t end up joining them. You’ll be a rad, multifarious individual before you know it, and people will be intrigued by you. And you might even start to intrigue yourself…
  3. Travel places, and outside of your comfort zone. I am eternally grateful for getting two bouts of study abroad-type programs in my time at school. Traveling takes you out of your comfort zone, no doubt; there will be adversity and challenges in a new environment but that is part of the experience of it all. And, if you’re as fortunate as I was, you’ll be rewarded with lasting relationships- with countries, cities, and, most of all, diverse troupes of human beings. Personally, I wish I would’ve dove further into my own backyard, in Athens, Ohio, and in the United States of America even. School exposes you to many cost effective opportunities (not to mention substantial free time) to travel places with clubs and organizations on a weekend whim or a few days at a time. And, sometimes, look no further than your immediate surroundings to undertake an adventure.

    The Crew

    Grabbing some drinks in the sky (literally) with study abroad friends

  4. Absorb as much knowledge as possible, everyday. It can be relatively easy to go through your course schedule and pass with flying colors by just “showing up.” I’m here to tell you that’s not enough. Why sell yourself short dude? You’ve dedicated numerous resources to be a student of your institution– make sure you take advantage of it. The “cool” kids in high school might’ve been those who ditched class and dicked around the entire time, but in real life, the “coolest,” or the most respected and fascinating, are those with a breadth of knowledge that stretch endless topics.
  5. Live in the present. When I was a freshman, I couldn’t wait to be a sophomore and ditch that freshman label. When I was a sophomore, I couldn’t wait to upgrade to off-campus housing from the dorms and become a junior. And so it goes on. Bask in your present situation and acknowledge that each day you call yourself a college student is one of the better days in the scheme of your life. Don’t wait around for the massive weekend rager; go out with your best friends on a Tuesday for a few beers and recognize that it’s rewarding all the same. You’ll likely never have another chance to be in so close proximity with so many other people who are in the exact same stage of life as you. Enjoy it. Enjoy every minute of it.

And maybe you’ll be lucky enough to figure out who you are, and what you want yourself to be, along the way.

Author: Nick Battaglia

Nick is a human being who spends an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what he should be doing, instead of just doing; he hopes to change that in his new venture with Glass Duffle. Proud alumnus of Ohio University in 2011, Nick is currently situated in Columbus, 77.5 miles northwest of his beloved alma mater, according to Google Maps.

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6 Comments

  1. I totally agree with #1 – I played on an intramural soccer team with one of my English profs in college. He ended up becoming a great friend and mentor and was much more insightful than any of my assigned advisers in school.

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    • Thanks for sharing, Kenzie! Playing on an intramural team with a professor sounds like unique and rewarding way to establish those relationships, and in a presumably more relaxed atmosphere.

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    • Thanks for sharing, Kenzie! Playing on an intramural team with a professor sounds like unique and rewarding way to establish those relationships, and in a presumably more relaxed atmosphere.

      Post a Reply
  2. Good Read Nick…. # 5 resignates with me: “old timer”: We’re all so busy working for the weekends…. how about a good old thirsty thursday???????

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    • I’m guilty of partaking in the what-is-becoming-more-frequent Thirsty Thursday these days:) Thanks for reading!

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