By Madeleine J. Post, Staff Writer

Photo credit: Corynne Olivia

Photo credit: Corynne Olivia

Building the right relationships in college is crucial for success in the real world. College is a time of formation. Everything we learn and experience in college should be geared toward the future: toward life after college. The relationships we form in college are a defining aspect of this formation, because it is through connection with other people that human beings learn to live communally, to live in the broader world. Our friends, our professors, and the professionals in our  lives are essential for making us better persons, training us to live well in the world, and helping us to grow a network that will propel our careers after graduation. Fostering relationships with these three groups will order your college career toward success in the world. 

Friends

It was 11 p.m. — still early at the Christendom College library. 

Two of my friends and I had snuck an electric tea pot into the study room, we were cramming for our philosophy final the next morning. We spent five hours in that room, reviewing notes, flipping flash cards, and guzzling down Earl Grey.

And we all passed the exam… by far. Why? We worked toward a goal together, a goal we would not have reached alone.

Every college student needs a squad — a group of friends to encourage you, study with you, laugh with you, and challenge you to reach your potential for personal excellence. Friendship is psychologically healthy. A study from University of California, Las Angeles, found that friendships reduce stress and increase feelings of safety and calmness. 

Friendship is a free gift — no one is owed friendship. This is precisely why college friendships are crucial for millennials: friendships make us better people. In order to improve the world we must first improve ourselves. A selfless friendship is a fantastic way to do this: to learn how to give in relationships without expecting anything in return. Only when we learn how to give to the people closest to us will we learn how to give back to the world in which we live.

Professors

I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.
— Alexander the Great

Like good friends, good professors prepare their students to contribute to the world. Many students fail to cultivate relationships with their professors and in doing so ignore the wealth of knowledge, experience, and guidance their professors have to offer. 

Developing a relationship with your professor is crucial for a well-rounded learning experience. Students are meant to be active learners; we do not merely receive information; we a think critically, inquire, and argue. An excellent context for active learning occurs not only during class, but during professors’ office hours. I, as well as many of my classmates, make it a habit to bring questions to professors outside of class. Additionally, we often seek their advice on study strategies, as well as internship and graduate school opportunities. Professors are also generally more than willing to provide letters of recommendation for their students. 

So take advantage of opportunities to build relationships with your professors! They are more than willing to guide you toward living well after college and giving back to society.

Professionals

Many students spend their college careers absorbed in their studies, never leaving the library, only participating in the occasional reading group, and using their GPA to measure their overall success. While there is nothing wrong with focusing on studies during college (of course not!), many students do this to a fault, forgetting that college is a time for professional formation, as well as academic formation. Developing relationships with professionals during college is essential for a successful career after college. Getting a job on campus is a fantastic way to begin growing your professional network, or circle of connections in the working world. Setting up a Linked-In account can allow you to access resources on professional development and stay up to date on recent happenings in your network. 

Remember...

While developing relationships with others is crucial for living a good, successful life after college, relationships are a two-way street. It principally depends on us to learn how to live in relationships with others. Remember: it is only when we change ourselves that we can change the world around us, and initiating the right relationships in college is an excellent way to get started.

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