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How To Get Organized In College

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It’s hard to get organized in college when the sweet freedom of living on your own means you can do things—and leave things undone—whenever you want.

Need to clean your room but you would rather watch Netflix? Push off cleaning for next week.

Can’t remember when your paper is due but you’re busy online shopping? Find that trendy outfit with a good price and hope your paper is not due tomorrow.

But putting off these things do come with consequences.

For example, a messy room that makes you late to a party because you can’t find your favorite shirt isn’t ideal.

And if you do happen to have a paper tomorrow, you just dug yourself a hole because you have nothing to show for it. Now you’re forced to lie, stress out about writing it during the day, or take a 0% on that assignment. Again, that’s not fun.

Have you considered that you can make one switch in your life to accomplish what you need to while also having more fun?

The secret to doing this is being organized.

Getting organized in college will make your days more peaceful, improve your happiness, and help you achieve the success you want this semester.

So don’t think you’re getting organized just to say you’re organized and cross that off your to-do list. When you know how to get organized in college, the results are real and your life gets a whole lot better.

To accomplish this, take a look at and implement some of these 60 tips to stay organized in college.

(Related: Order the Amazon bestseller How To College, packed with 80 college success rules.)

60 Tips To Stay Organized In College

1. Know why to get organized

We covered this in the introduction. However, to stay organized you want to have a specific reason why that matters to you. Will organization help you relieve stress, get better grades, or keep your life from falling apart? Identify your reason for it, and remind yourself if you start to slack.

2. Save your syllabi for future reference

During syllabus week, it goes like this: professors hand out a syllabus and students throw them away after class. Don’t do that! Keep the syllabi in case they aren’t uploaded online. You never know when you’ll need it.

3. Buy a planner/calendar

Planners cost like $10, so just buy one because if you’re smart you’ll use it multiple times a day every day of the semester. I treated my planner like a third arm, and never forgot about it. And this paid off because I also never turned in an assignment late or forgot about an exam.

4. Bring it with you everywhere

A planner isn’t too helpful if it’s not around when you need to write something in it. Bring your planner with you to every class and student organization meeting, and you’ll never miss an important date.

5. Do your most important task first

Crossing off the most important task of your day ensures you’re always prepared for the big one. That compares highly to doing the least important tasks but not being organized for the make or break assignments.

6. Utilize post-it notes

Buy a post-it note pack for $3, and use them with reckless abandon to stay organized. While writing this post, I have two post-it notes on my laptop and nine on my desk. Once the task is done, throw the note away and forget about it.

7. Invest in a dry erase board

Dry erase boards are perfect for reminders and also for studying before an exam. In my experience, these boards are durable enough to last you four years of college. (The markers will need to be replaced.)

8. Make your exam dates visible

It’s up to you how you do this—dry erase board, planner, post-it notes—but it ensures you won’t make a dumb exam mistake like showing up late to the test. If you study the right away (Chip Away Strategy), you’ll also have an idea of when you need to start studying.

9. Befriend Google Calendar

Admittedly, this will take 30 to 60 minutes to get set up. Yet once it’s set up, you’ll have a digital calendar guiding you through each hour of the day. Many students swear they would be lost without Google Calendar.

10. Schedule travel time

Those 10 minute walks between buildings or your dorm add up, so schedule them. Your schedule needs to be accurate if it’s going to work for you. Otherwise you’re fooling yourself and you’ll always feel behind.

11. Buy individual folders or binders for each class

Don’t be the guy or girl who crams every paper from every class in one folder. Because when you need to find a specific document, you’ll be looking for a needle in a haystack. Also, it makes studying easier when you have all your documents in the class in order.

12. On Sundays, write down all the big things you need to do next week

I find Sundays are the best to plan ahead for the next week. By writing down the big tasks, you know what to expect coming up and there won’t be any last-minute surprises.

13. On the first day of each month, write down all the big events for the month

A month is a long way out, but some things require multiple weeks of preparation instead of one week. Protect yourself by writing down the big events a month in advance. This not only gets your schedule in line, it gives you objectives to tackle each month.

14. Be a minimalist

Do you really want that low quality and unattractive free shirt they’re giving out on campus? Don’t take it if you’re not going to wear it. Taking it leads to another item in your drawer, another thing to wash and fold while doing laundry, and more clutter. Since becoming a minimalist, my quality of life has noticeably improved.

15. Consolidate with your roommate

Simple communication to consolidate the things in your room does the trick here. If they’re bringing a microwave, you bring the television. If they’re bringing a fan, you bring a futon. Then your room has less clutter and you both save money.

16. Only keep everyday items on your desk

If you don’t use it every day, put it in your drawer or pitch it. Reserve your limited desk space for necessary items. So those color pencils that you used one time for a project don’t deserve valuable space on your desk.

17. Get rid of what you didn’t use last semester

It’s not your fault if you bought a three hole punch and didn’t need to use it all semester. It is your fault if you bring it back for the next semester. Odds are you don’t need it, and if you do then the library will have one to borrow.

18. No duplicates allowed

I’m all for being prepared, but there’s a fine line between being prepared and paranoid. You don’t need two personal staplers, two rulers, two desk lamps—your dorm room isn’t Noah’s Ark. Stick to one of each, you’ll be fine and more organized.

19. Repeat outfits for class

There’s a reason President Obama wears the same color suit and Mark Zuckerberg wears the same color t-shirt each day: convenience. So get a wardrobe that allows you to easily mix and match tops and bottoms. And remember that the classmates who see you Monday, Wednesday, Friday have no idea if you repeat clothing on Tuesday, Thursday.

20. Leave some clothes at home

If you live in the same state as your college, don’t bring all of your clothes at once. Bring summer or fall clothes to start the semester. And then when it gets cool, go home to grab your winter clothes. Even if you go to school out of state, you’re going to come home for Thanksgiving most likely, make the transfer then.

21. Purchase a pop up hamper

When my freshman roommate rushed a fraternity, he slept on a pile of clothes. I didn’t get it, because all he needed to do was purchase a pop up hamper and toss his clothes in there. I previously wrote about how a clean room helps you focus.

22. Email less, call more

Calling someone gives you the answer you need in one minute. Emailing them gives you a chain of back and forth emails that waste both people’s time. (That reminds me that I need to work on this.)

23. Check email three times a day

Some of you may go weeks without checking your email, which is a problem. The other group checks it every 15 minutes—way too much. Keep a healthy relationship with email by checking it in the morning, afternoon, and in the evening.

24. Confirm appointments the day before

If you have a doctor, dentist, or professor meeting, get confirmation that you have the right time and day. The 30 seconds it takes to confirm this is well worth it compared to mixing up the details and wasting an hour waiting outside their office.

25. Charge your phone and laptop every night

You don’t think about this until it’s too late the next morning and you have to waste time finding a charger between classes. Yet it’s another thing organized students don’t have to worry about and disorganized students have to waste their time with.

26. Pack your backpack

Instead of searching for a pen, pencil, or looseleaf to take with you to class, pack those suckers in your backpack once and for all. If your stock becomes depleted, restore it. Now when that pop quiz comes around, you can spend those last minutes studying to get a better grade instead of searching for a pencil.

27. Bring your chargers with you

How annoying is it when you make the trek across campus, open up your laptop, see its dead, and don’t have a charger? It’s the worst. Make it a habit to bring your laptop and phone charger with you and you’ll save yourself valuable time. Or buy a separate pair for travel.

28. Organize your laptop’s Documents folder

In college, a professor advised me to organize my Documents folder and I’ve appreciated it ever since. To get the most out of your Documents folder, have an organizational chart like this:

  • College
    • Senior year
    • Junior year
    • Sophomore year
    • Freshman year
      • BIO 121
      • CSE 241
      • ENG 111
      • MTH 201
      • POL 275

29. Back up your computer

On my way to campus sophomore year, I accidentally ran over my backpack with my car! And guess what was in my backpack—yup, my laptop. And I didn’t have it backed up, so I lost everything. Forever gone were my resume, class documents, and important files. The disaster wouldn’t have been that bad if I backed up my computer.

30. Stop multitasking

You can write a rough draft of your paper in two hours if you give it your full focus. Or it will take you four hours if you’re watching a movie, texting, and talking to your friend during it. Focus on a single task and you’ll enjoy more of both the paper and social time after.

31. Create an ideal schedule for registration

Registration is a nightmare if you go into it unorganized and don’t have a clue about what classes you need to schedule. It’s a breeze if you organize your ideal schedule, with a few backup classes in case classes you wanted are full.

32. Utilize wall space

Many college rooms leave a lot of floor space to be desired. An easy fix is to utilize wall space with shelves. My housemate only had two shelves but he got the most out of them to clear his floor space.

33. Know when you’re most productive

An early riser will want to crack open the college books during the morning, while a night owl will want to put in the hours at night. It’s bad news if a night owl tries to work in the morning, and vice versa. Organize your to-do list around when you do your best work for optimal results.

34. Do laundry every other Sunday

Never think about when you’re going to do laundry again by permanently setting it for every other Sunday. This tip won’t make you into a college all-star, but it’s one less thing you need to think about. Mental organization is often more important than physical organization.

35. Set a day and time for groceries

Routines are a good thing because they increase effectiveness and efficiency. So it’s a good idea to get in the routine of stocking your food and drink supply on a certain day and time each week. These little moves add up.

36. Buy a reusable water bottle

With one quality water bottle, you don’t need to stuff plastic water bottles under your bed or have them empty ones laying on your floor. It also saves you hundreds of trips to the market when you can fill up your bottle in your building.

37. Plan your day the night before

What a simple yet productive thing to do. This move lets you wake up and get right to work on your to-do list, wasting no time in the morning.

38. Rent books from the library

More often than you think, you can rent a book from your university library. Once the assignment is over, return it. This makes things much cleaner than buying a book and holding onto it for the hope of selling it later—not to mention cheaper.

39. Exercise regularly

To stay organized in college, you need the mental capability to manage your schedule. Exercise gives your brain the refresher it needs to stay sharp throughout the semester.

40. Get adequate sleep

Inadequate sleep means you’ll have to take naps during the day. Naps during the day mean you’ll have to skip class or waste valuable chunks of your schedule. Take care of yourself by sleeping around eight hours a night and implementing these sleep tips.

41. Maximize space under the bed

Buy bed risers and then fit as many things as possible under there. This is extremely useful because it doesn’t take up any extra floor space that your bed wouldn’t already cover.

42. Clean your room five minutes each day

Trust me that cleaning five minutes a day for a week is 1,000% better than cleaning 45 minutes for one day. You’ll also feel good after completing this small task.

43. Borrow vacuums and brooms

Your neighbors across the hall are going to have a vacuum and broom. So just use theirs when the situation calls for it, and get the most out of your dorm room’s space.

44. Put it away right after using

Like laundry, your stuff will start to clutter your room if it’s not put away immediately. If you borrow an RA’s vacuum, return it the second after you’re done. You’ll relieve yourself of remembering to give it back and it being in the way all week long.

45. Say no to people

Want a disorganized and messy schedule? Say yes to every person and group that invites you to do something. You’ll be polite, but you’ll also go insane. For your mental peace, learn to say no to people to keep your schedule somewhat clear.

46. Create an Excel sheet of scholarship requirements and due dates

What’s interesting about scholarships is everyone thinks they’re so competitive so they have no chance of winning. Yet, the opposite effect happens. They’re often not very competitive because not many students apply for them. You can’t apply if you don’t know when they are though. So make an Excel sheet with the due dates to stay on it and win free money.

47. Create an Excel sheet of internship application due dates

Same thing, except you’re creating a list of internship applications. Many of these due dates will jump on you in the beginning of the spring semester if you’re not ready. This small task will keep you ready.

48. Keep a monthly budget

Not knowing how much money you have left in your bank account is disorganization at its finest. This can lead you to shell out $500 for a spring break trip that you don’t have. Instead, let Mint.com organize your budget for you. It’s what I use to know about all the money coming in and going out of my account—works like a charm without fail.

49. Have no more than two credit cards

Five credit cards means five separate bills you have to remember, five pieces of mail each month, and numerous emails about promotions. Lighten your mental load by cancelling those extra credit cards you don’t actually need.

50. Align credit card due dates

Why force yourself to remember multiple credit card due dates when you can choose to have them hit on the same day each month? Again, this is a little thing. Yet it makes your life easier, plus it could be the difference between a late payment or on time payment. (Another solution is to set up automatic payment.)

51. Sell or donate clothes you don’t wear

I sell or donate clothes that I haven’t worn for a year. This way, each piece of clothing gets a chance to be worn for all four seasons. And if it’s not worn, then I know I can let it go.

52. Do research in advance

Students who do research while they’re writing will have books and papers all over their desk, plus website tabs all over their screen. By getting research out of the way first, you’re free to type out your entire paper in a clean physical and mental environment.

53. Establish an outgoing post

Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to leave the room to clean up if you’re in the middle of work. At moments like these, organize what needs to go in a pile or box. Then your brain will stop thinking about it, and the items won’t be scattered across your room.

54. Delegate group projects

Everyone in your group is at least educated to be accepted into the same college as you, so might as well trust them to do their job. Delegation is a great skill to learn and will save you from trying to do the project yourself.

55. Use throwaway dishes

In the dorms, plastic utensils, bowls, and plates are the way to go. They’re convenient because you can throw them away after using and you don’t need to wash them. On the other hand, metal utensils are a pain and take up too much space.

56. Place keys in the same place

When you go into your room, put your ID and keys in the same place on your desk every single time. It’s impossible to lose them if you consistently put them in the corner of your desk without fail.

57. Mark clothing boxes

How awful would it be as an out-of-state student who brought your winter clothes to start the fall semester? Save yourself this nightmare by taking one minute to grab a marker and mark each clothing box.

58. Add a door shoe rack

Hook up your roommate’s shoes and yours on the door for easy access and to save tons of floor space. There won’t be anyone tripping on shoes in that room if you always have them on the door.

59. Meditate daily

Meditation is the single best activity to keep your mind in the present, which makes it easy to be organized. Just doing five minutes of meditation will make a surprising difference. And this gets your brain away from autopilot, where stupid mistakes are made. (If you’re interested, check out this post.)

60. Do what helps you get organized

I just laid out 60 tips for how to be organized in college. So it’s reasonable if you feel overwhelmed, but don’t be. You don’t need to do all 60 tips to get organized. Pick what ones help you and ignore the rest. 

Final Words

When there’s already so much going on in your college life, I can see how getting organized might be at the low end of your priority list.

But after reading this, I hope you now realize that getting organized is the difference maker to succeeding because it clears your mind.

So stop the hectic lifestyle. Manage the daily stress. And make getting organized a priority for this college semester.

Organization will make you happier than you think.

How would better organization improve your college life? Would you consider your room messy or clean?

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Career

15 Alternatives To College That Make Complete Sense

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Society tells you it only makes sense to go to college. I disagree and argue there are 15 legitimate alternatives to college you should seriously consider.

See the contradiction? A guy who went to college and is the author of How To College tells high school seniors to reconsider automatically going to college.

My main concern is with people who go to college “just because” and don’t have a specific reason behind their decision.

Maybe all of their friends are going, their parents expect that, or society’s beaten them down with the pro-college message that doing anything else seems crazy.

What pisses me off is many times people don’t need college to accomplish their life goals—studies show that around 25% of college grads work at jobs that don’t require a degree—but they sign a four to six year contract because they think they have to and wind up with a mountain of debt.

That’s so messed up!

I’m convinced millions of people would be better off if they followed their passion from the start and never went to college.

So I believe you have to be clear and intentional about why you’re going to college. And if you can’t come up with that, don’t go and instead do something else productive.

Plus the true cost of college is much higher than you think. Let me explain.

The True Cost Of College

Opportunity cost refers to the fact that when you make a decision to take one action you miss a benefit of another action.

In this case, going to college means you miss out on the opportunity to work full-time.

So if you’re total cost of college after tuition, living costs, and books is approximately $40,000 a year, that’s not the true cost of college. If you could have made $25,000 a year working full-time (a low income for many of the non-degree jobs listed below), then your true cost is $65,000.

Got it?

And since the average student spends six years in college—according to Complete College America and the Department of Education—not four, this makes the true cost of college $390,000.

Doesn’t look very good on paper right? That’s because college is plain and simple not a good deal. It’s overpriced and they’ve raised tuition too high.

It makes me sick that some 18 year olds are signing up for college solely on the fact that the media and society say it’s smart, then are stuck paying off debt until they’re 30.

I want to help people see the light that not everyone needs college and they can avoid this depressing plunge into debt.

Take a look at these very enticing alternatives to college.

15 Legitimate Alternatives To College

1. Work a job

alternative-to-college

Contrary to popular opinion, you can work right away with a high school degree.

All of the following occupations don’t require a college degree and some of them pay extremely well:

  • Commercial pilot
  • Insurance sales rep
  • Medical assistant or secretary
  • Criminal detective
  • Physical trainer
  • Loan officer
  • Massage therapist
  • Graphic designer
  • Web developer
  • Computer coder
  • Optician
  • Casino gaming manager
  • Power plant operator
  • Transportation inspector
  • Personal care aide
  • Subway and streetcar operator
  • Farmer or rancher

Obviously you need the skills for jobs like graphic designer and web developer, for example. But this list goes to show that a college degree doesn’t get in your way for most jobs.

And while your peers are paying to learn in college, you’re getting paid to learn on the job. Looks clear to me that you’re winning that deal.

2. Pursue a creative talent

Fancy yourself acting in the big screen, singing on stage, or killing jokes on a set? The time is now to go for it and skip college.

Because the fact of the matter is that it’s easier to support yourself on this pursuit than while providing for a family later on in life.

So give it all you got to become a professional actor, singer, dancer, comedian, or artist in this window of opportunity.

Spend a year auditioning for as many roles as you can and start small to build your skills.

Hustle your butt off for 18 hours a day. Split a studio with five friends. Fight tooth and nail to make your dream become real.

If it’s needed, move to a place like Los Angeles, Austin, or New York.

College won’t help you nearly as much as you can help yourself in these creative fields.

3. Go to trade school

A trade school education can lead to work in painting, woodwork, locksmithing, landscaping, masonry, locksmith, forestry, construction, welding, and other handyman work.

It’s not sexy, but learning a “blue collar” job through a trade school makes a lot of sense when you look at the numbers.

For example, graduates of trade school make $42,000 on average compared to the $48,000 average salary of college graduates.

But when you consider trade school costs significantly less and it generally takes just two years (meaning two more years to make money), the value is through the roof!

If you’re not already convinced this is a bright option, a Rutgers University study found these trade schools at close to 100% job placements. That’s nothing but impressive.

For many of you reading, you can get a fast start to a successful career through trade school.

4. Start a business

So you want to run your own business someday after majoring in business and then working in a Fortune 500 company? Stop there and hold that thought.

Would you be more experienced and business savvy through hearing lectures or by running your own business? The answer is obvious—lessons are best learned through doing.

I’m also convinced that being an entrepreneur offers these very real benefits. Running your own shop will force you to learn to:

  • Develop your critical thinking skills
  • Master time management
  • Overcome objections and make the sale
  • Treat customers with the utmost respect and politeness
  • Communicate with adults and more diverse people than your friends
  • Strengthen your creative muscle through new business and marketing ideas
  • Network with other entrepreneurs
  • Fail fast and bounce back

Plus thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to start a business. Spend $50 to $100 and you’ll have your website up and running.

Then the simple formula to online business success is to find a problem you’re passionate about, solve that problem, and then sell the solution. If the problem affects enough people and is a big enough pain, and your solution is good enough, then you’re in business.

So start small and you will have a chance at starting a thriving business. Don’t try to create the next Facebook, you won’t be able to do it.

And don’t be surprised if your business is profitable or it leads you to a new profitable idea. After all, the guy who sold pet rocks became an online millionaire.

5. Take free online classes

free-online-classes

Want an Ivy League education without forking up $200,000 to pay for it? Free online courses are the solution for you.

Online learning sites like Coursera, Harvard Extension, edX, and others have made it cost-free and simple to get your learning on. All you have to do is sign up and you’re getting a world-class education in whatever subject you desire.

This way you’re getting a feel for what subjects you’re passionate about before wasting time paying for college and switching your major four times in your freshman year.

Many 18 year olds could use this extra time before jumping into college. It’s a shame more don’t.

Or you can forgo college altogether by using the knowledge and skills you learned from these classes.

You can use what you learned to pursue another alternative on this list.

If you’re interested, check out this guide to learn how to study at Yale, Harvard, and other top institutions, for free!

6.Travel the world

You could sit in a stuffy building to learn about South American history, or you could forego college and visit Machu Picchu, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires.

Seriously just consider what would happen if you traveled the world for one year.

You’ll learn people skills by meeting other travelers and interacting with locals.

You’ll be tested in your travels to navigate the language barrier and unknown living situation.

Most importantly, being outside your comfort zone traveling will help you build self awareness to discover what areas of life are you passionate about and want to explore further.

And you also avoid any future regret for not going. As time flies and you would normally transition through college, a job, and then kids, you may never get the chance to travel the world for an entire year again.

I recommend you do it now while you’re young (wild) and free.

Now if you’re worried about costs, that’s smart to be money conscious but it’s also not a valid excuse.

Because traveling a year is much cheaper than one year of college. And you can work side jobs while you’re traveling—like teach English, bartend, freelance, sell stuff online, and much more.

7. Join the military

Another possible route is to skip college and join the military.

Serving your country is not only a tremendous honor, there’s also a bunch of tangible benefits including:

  • A $35,000 salary with increasing pay the longer you’re in service
  • Receive diverse training that’s transferable to your future career
  • Have your college paid for (not guaranteed)
  • Free health care and almost free living costs
  • Free travel across the United States and overseas

I know a few people who joined the military out of high school and they all love the discipline and organization it gives them.

Of course there are some downsides to joining the military.

You’re not in control of where you’re deployed. You could be placed in a war zone at any time, depending on global events outside of your control. And although it’s rare, there is the risk of death which you avoid in college and these other alternatives.

8. Become a realtor

Whether you find yourself browsing home prices on Zillow for fun or dreaming about making six figures, another solid replacement to college is becoming a realtor.

As long as people continue needing a place to live, realtors who are good at their job will have money to bring home.

According to PayScale, the average real estate agent makes approximately $51,000—again, no degree needed.

But what I personally love about the realtor profession is your income has no ceiling. The more you hustle to buy or sell houses, the more you make.

That’s true meritocracy!

And the process to be official is simple: Take real estate courses (“tuition” costs less than $1,000—much more favorable than college), pass the state licensing test, and then start helping people buy and sell homes.

9. Volunteer

Many volunteer and charity organizations would happily have you join their team to serve with them, no college degree needed.

What’s ironic is some people graduate college to become a social worker or serve in the Peace Corps when they could have started volunteering right away.

If volunteering is your passion, you’re welcome for that four year head start.

Organizations like AmeriCorps, the Catholic Volunteer Network, and the Peace Corps is where I would look first. And a simple Google search of what and where you want to volunteer will give you enough information to start applying.

When you’re drawn toward serving others, you’ll get more out of volunteering than studying subjects you don’t care about in a college classroom. Plus, learning empathy and the value of giving back will serve you the rest of your life.

And Jesus and Mother Theresa didn’t go to college did they? The way they loved people will never be forgotten.

Again, you can always volunteer for a year or more and then go to college if you really think that’ll help your future. Why rush into it when it’s not needed to do what you love?

10. Build an audience with content

take-your-success-2017-goals

This is what I’m working on every single day: Publishing content with the goal of building an audience and providing value to them.

I so wish I started this at age 18 instead of age 21, but it is what it is.

So how is this accomplished? There are only three options to publish content and build an audience:

  1. Start a blog if you enjoy and are best at writing
  2. Start a podcast if you prefer talking
  3. Start a YouTube channel if you like being in front of the camera

Those are the three tried and true methods that won’t go away. My recommendation is to start with one of those and then add another or all three mediums once you’re more established.

Thousands of people are making a fortune doing this already. So the path to success is there if you know how to build a community around you.

Honestly, it’d be wise to publish content whether you don’t or do go to college. Having a personal brand and following you can take with you always gives you leverage in the future.

That leverage can be deployed to build your own business or to win interviews and job offers.

11. Go to community college

If you’re still stubborn and think you need some kind of college degree before you’re qualified to work, have you considered an associate’s degree instead of a bachelor’s?

An associate’s degree requires half the time, much less than half the money, and opens doors to some high-quality jobs including:

  • Radiation therapist
  • Dental hygienist
  • Registered nurse
  • Air traffic controller
  • Computer programmer
  • Paralegal
  • Police officer
  • Aerospace engineer

Many of these median salaries are in the high five figures and sometimes six figures—like air traffic controller.

Plus community colleges have some unique benefits like smaller class sizes, more of the professor’s attention, more flexible schedules, and the ability to work while you’re in school.

For example, you’d struggle to get to know your professor if you’re at four-year state school with 250 people in every class.

12. Get a fellowship or apprenticeship

A fellowship or apprenticeship is so appealing to me (if I were 18 again) because they’re hands on jobs where you’re constantly learning through doing, not by hearing lectures and memorizing.

That’s why some fellowships and apprenticeships are taking form and becoming trendy again.

For example, UnCollege offers a 32 week program that includes a voyage, launch, and internship phase. It’s purpose is to help students learn outside of the classroom through experimentation and mentoring.

And one billionaire, Peter Thiel, questions college to the point where he gives around 20 young adults under age 20 a $100,000 fellowship award not to go to college. Isn’t that interesting?

On the website is the statement, “The Thiel Fellowship gives $100,000 to young people who want to build new things instead of sitting in a classroom.”

If you’re interested in learning more or applying for The Thiel Fellowship, click here.

Some other well-known fellowships include Echoing Green, TechStars, Enstitute and The Year In Industry.

There are also other interesting fellowships and apprenticeships that are a Google click away. If you’re diligent in searching you can find solid options.

13. Create a non-profit

Want a rewarding and life-changing experience like nothing else can offer? Look no farther than starting a non-profit.

Just like starting a business, I recommend your non-profit’s mission starts small by addressing a local need in your community.

Because you’d struggle to make a difference if you tried to take on world hunger or something as complex as cancer.

For example of decent ideas, maybe your mission is to financial support animal shelters in your town. Maybe it’s to clothe homeless people in your city. Maybe it’s to provide a free summer camp for underprivileged children.

Recruit some people who might be on board and then test the idea in the community. Talk to people or start serving and evaluate the response. Then continue to improve your service and build your team.

If this is your life’s passion, stick with it or take what you learned to found a new non-profit.

And if you do go to college, your resume will be truly rocking doing this—especially if it makes a tangible difference in the community.

For inspiration, here’s an example of an 18-year-old who started a crazy successful non-profit.

14. Write a book

I truly believe every single person on this Earth has a unique story and some important message to share with the world. Sue me for seeing the positives in humanity.

And that means you’re fully capable of writing a book before you turn 20.

What are you passionate about? What do you excel in?

And most importantly, what’s something you know a lot about and it’s popular enough for other people to care? That’s the special ingredient to writing a quality book.

I get it if you want to wait to write your book until you have something more powerful to say or a little more experience under your belt.

But just know there are some young teenagers writing books for people their age and making a killing, specifically 14-year-old Caleb Maddix comes to mind.

15. Coach a team

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Are you a former football, tennis, soccer, basketball, baseball, swimming, or golf player? Have you ever been decent at a sport?

That’s about all the qualifications you need to coach a middle school, junior high, or high school team.

For example, some of my friends have gone on to coach club volleyball teams, high school football teams, 8th grade basketball teams, and everything in between.

High schools will automatically pay you in most cases.

And since many parents want no part of coaching, you can offer the local school or parish to coach the middle school team as long as you’re paid a reasonable fee for your time. You just might have to get more creative to get paid when you coach younger ages.

If you’re a sports enthusiast, you’re going to have a lot of fun coaching. It’s a way to stay close to the game you love after your time to play has ended.

Plus you get the rewarding feeling of passing down the knowledge you’ve learned and making your former coaches proud.

College Isn’t For Everyone

You have to admit after reading this that college isn’t for everyone.

I mean why would a guy or girl who wants to be a realtor, for example, spend at least four years and at least $50,000 a year at college to delay doing what they love?

It doesn’t make sense and college would only disappoint them with a mountain of debt.

Now the table tilts differently in two situations: your parents are paying for your entire education or you’re 100% certain you need to college to get your dream job (investment banker, lawyer, doctor, professor, etc.).

It’s the debt that really pisses me off so if your parents are well off and can easily take the bill then that’s a different story.

But still, thinking this decision through will get you in the habit of questioning the norm and making the best decision for you, not doing things because other people are doing it.

That will help you win down the road in life.

Always aim to live with intention—especially if you’re deciding about a four to six year college contract.

So is college right for you? Only you can answer that.

And before you decide… promise me you will consider all of the options before you blindly go to college.

P.S. If you want help exploring your future options and becoming the best version of yourself, go here.

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College

Skipping Class Hurts Far More Than It Helps

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The excuses for skipping class vary from ludicrous to reasonable.

If you’re feeling super lazy and the last thing you want to do is go to class—hey, it happens—your excuses will lack common sense. You’ll skip because it might rain, you miss your dog, you’re not feeling pretty, or some other laughable idea.

There are also what I call the legitimate, or reasonable excuses.

You want to sleep in longer (or take a nap) instead of going to class because you have to study late at night.

You can read the PowerPoint slides online and get the same information you need without going to class.

The professor doesn’t check for attendance so there’s no consequences if you don’t show up.

You haven’t worked out in weeks so you have to go to the gym instead of class. It’s a fair trade.

You can make a case for these kinds of excuses and others in the ballpark of reason. It’s easy to miss class when you justify it. (It’s easy to do anything when it’s justified.)

But, I think anyone who skips class is misguided.

Because whether you have a legitimate reason or you’re lazy, I’m going to hit you with the truth: skipping class hurts you more than it helps you. Here’s exactly why.

Skipping Class Makes Things Worse

These are the fun problems that come from skipping college classes, in no particular order.

First, rarely is all the information you need for an assignment provided without additional information from a professor. Whether it’s a project, paper, or exam, during class is when a professor often takes time to give context, helpful instruction, and dictate what they’re looking for. If you’re not there, that’s no extra help for you.

Plus, you don’t get any freebie test answers if you’re not at class. You know what I mean, right?

When the professor expands on a topic, then says, “Take notes because this will be on the exam.” Only the people who attend class come away with that helpful insight. (Or when they deliberately tell you a specific question and answer on the exam, only the students there are lucky.)

You also miss when your teacher says, “Don’t worry about this unit, it won’t be on the exam.” If you miss that day, you’ll but putting hours of valuable study time into terms that you don’t need to know.

Many students who often miss class, sometimes only one class, are sure to waste more time trying to catch up than if they went to class. Because not only do they have to learn what they went over in class, they first have to spend time knowing what to go over.

And it’s extremely difficult to get a quality letter of recommendation if you routinely skip class with all of your professors. At best, your letters will be average and bland. At worst, you won’t have any professors agree to write one.

For all of these reasons, and some others I’m sure I left out, if you like yourself, you will go to every class you can.

So while there’s plenty of reasons to skip class and the motivation behind each one is that it will make your life easier, if only for a little, now you know that premise is untrue.

Skipping class makes your life much more difficult and stressful. In other words, going to class makes your life much easier.

You’ll Win When You Go To Class

Did you catch all of that? Although going to class can be a drag at times, just remember the consequences of not going to class are always a losing bargain.

I must say that this entire blog post is assuming you want to succeed in college and not live in constant stress. If you don’t want to do well for yourself and want to skip class, enjoy the stress and good luck to you. (You need it!)

And here’s one last negative. Skipping class when you don’t feel like going sets a bad precedent for your future. Because after you graduate, not going to work on the days you don’t feel like it also sounds good, until you lose your job, lose your income, and become a bum.

College is the perfect time to establish successful habits. Start today by creating the habit of going to every class, regardless of your feelings.

Your college experience will be better off for it.

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College

Podcast Interviews For The How To College Launch

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To promote How To College, I went on podcasts to discuss all the great content in the book.

The hosts and I discussed important subjects like building a personal brand, best practices for mental health, goal-setting strategies, and a bunch of other cool success topics.

The interviews all went well and I appreciated the hosts having me on. Free press is always for me (I’m talking to you Forbes and Business Insider, just waiting by the phone).

I figured instead of reading content, you could listen to a podcast and learn something new:

I’ve been on some other podcasts that still haven’t posted (what are you waiting for people?). It’s all good though.

Just Google search “Brian Robben podcast” if you want to listen to the other podcasts when they go live in the near future, or listen to the podcasts I’ve been on for The Golden Resume and Freedom Mindset launches.

Go crush it today!

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