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This is a guest post by education writer Jemima Lopez.

You don’t realize it now, but college does end. Eventually you’ll enter a world where it’s no longer normal to wake up at 11:43 on a regular basis, spend the majority of your money on happy hour drinks and cold cuts, and regard class attendance as your top priority. The ephemeral nature of college is something students hate to hear, but I can assure you that it goes by way faster than you can imagine. Before you know it you’ll be working a desk job wondering how you got from keg parties to casual Fridays.

But, lucky you, it’s not over yet. You can get up off that futon and make something of your time, your precious free time. Go out, explore, or accidentally invent the next biggest thing in social media. More specifically, take that “meh” college attitude and turn it into, “This may be the last time that I get this much freedom to do anything” attitude. Here’s how…

Socialize outside your friend group

Within the first few months of college, most students have some sort of friend group established. If you get inducted into a sorority or fraternity, you have that socialization built-in. If you go to a school near your hometown (or state), then you might have a few friends carried over from high school. A minority of you will actually have gone out of your way to befriend people who you’d normally not meet. While it’s nice to have a ready to socialize group of friends, I can’t sufficiently stress how important it is to meet people outside of your normal friends. Some of the best friends of my life — those people who are referred to in the movies as “my old pal from college” — were made by accident, completely outside the context of my other friends.

Take as many electives as you can

Changing gears to the scholastic side of things, I also strongly advise that you take as many classes outside your major as you can. English majors try a class in geology, mechanical engineers try your hand at French poetry, pre-meds take a look at advertising, and so forth.

So many college students enter school freshman year completely convinced that they’ve chosen the right major, when all too often a class in a completely disparate subject unearths an unrealized passion that would never have been discovered otherwise. The self-described physicist becomes a Shakespeare scholar, the business major decides to pursue organic chemistry. It happens all the time, and it could happen to you if you expanded your educational horizons beyond the ones you established after you graduated high school. People preach experimentalism in college, but they don’t preach it enough for academics in particular. Do yourself a favor and take a class in a subject that you know next to nothing about.

You only go to college once

As I said at the very beginning, you only go to college once. Unless you get a post Baccalaureate or go to grad school – but neither experience has the same novelty as your time as an undergrad. I know it’s impossible to make someone realize how much they will miss something before they miss it, but let this serve as a gentle reminder that time will eventually take its course, and you too will be wearing a cap and gown before you know it. Try not to regret the little time you have to discover yourself, your friends, and your future ambitions.

Jemima Lopez is a freelance blogger and writer who writes for Zen College Life, the directory of higher education, distance learning, and best online schools. She welcomes your comments below.

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