What Should I Focus on My First Semester of College?

Hanna Seymour: The right answer, of course, is academics: go to class, study, time management, exercise, sleep. You know, there’s all these priorities in college. And all of those are good things. I stress to freshman, first semester your number one priority—yes, go to class; yes, do your work—find great friends. And the reason I say that is I believe that the friends you surround yourself with in college will truly determine not only your success and happiness in college but the direction of your life—how well you do in college and beyond. So I think it is vital that they find great friends. So, my most recent job in higher education was working with students and helping prepare them for a career in the music industry. And the music industry doesn’t have a lot of entry level jobs.

John Ankerberg: Right.

Hanna Seymour: So, your graduating, and there is tough competition to even just get a foot in the door. I was watching students graduate, and you could look at their friend group. All of the friends in one group would get jobs. It might not be their dream job; for some of them it was. They all got an entry level job in the music industry. And then I would run across a student, say out and about at a restaurant, and they would be complaining to me, “I’ve been searching for a job for two years. None of my friends from that program have a job. We can’t find one.”

And I started seeing this pattern over and over: all the friends got a job; or none of the friends in a group would get a job. And what I realized is the type of people that they were choosing to surround themselves with for those four years were either encouraging them and challenging them to intern, to network, get out there, that ultimately landed them all jobs. Or maybe they interned once, maybe they were or were not going to class, whatever. But those other friend groups were not challenging and sharpening one another to a point that was going to help them get that job.