Success never happens alone. Think about all of the great things you've accomplished so far; can you name someone who helped you get there?
The truth is: people are the answer to success in any area -- especially college.
In order to succeed you must know how to cultivate your community.
I recently wrote the book Community College Success -- and while my target audience is those oft-forgotten but highly intelligent and valuable community college students, the concepts in the book are applicable to every student. You could also view the title as: Community + College = Success.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. And so it takes a community to "raise" a college graduate.
And you can build that community for yourself, no matter where you are or how much money you have. Building a community in college can often help you both afford college and ensure your investment of time and money yields a great return.
In Community College Success I share specific strategies on how to find and connect with the people who can help you choose a major and career path that interests you, get more money for college, get great internships, ensure you graduate, and help you access the hidden job market once you do graduate.
The people I met in college changed my life. They helped me win over $110,000 in scholarships, become a president of an honor society, travel outside the country for the first time, get a Master's degree (something I never thought I could do as the first in my family to go to college), and publish a book before my 25th birthday.
What could people help you achieve? What are your dreams?
I want to give you some of my best tips that I share in the book on how to connect with the most important people you'll meet in college so that you can figure out who you are, what you want, and how to make money contributing your unique talents to the world.
So here it is, the three groups of people you must really get to know:
The friends you have in college will be one of the strongest influences in your collegiate success. Think about the people you're hanging out with this weekend for a moment and answer these questions to yourself honestly: Do they support me? Do they challenge me to be better? Do I admire them? Are they helping me achieve my college goals? If the answer is yes: congrats you've found an amazing college community. If any of the answers are no: don't be afraid to distance yourself.
Then find and cultivate a wide variety of friends by joining and taking on leadership positions in campus clubs and organizations.
And finally, never underestimate the power of turning your phone off five minutes before class starts and striking up conversations with the people around you.
Meet with every professor during office hours at least once in the beginning of each semester. Professors know the academic world and will bend over backwards to help you both in their class and in your collegiate career if they see you really trying hard in their class and making the extra effort to seek (and take) their advice. Always go back and say thank you. You'll be thankful you've built these close relationships when it comes time to get recommendation letters, and sometimes even job recommendations.
The job market today is fast-paced, ever-changing, and hard to break into. Most jobs today didn't exist a few years ago, and many jobs are not directly tied to a specific major. The best way for you to figure out what you want to do and get on the path to doing it is to build relationships with people in jobs you find interesting.
You'd be amazed at who will talk to you and where it will lead. I share templates and formulas for getting a high response rate, but the basics are: be genuine, ask for advice, take the advice, and follow-up with a thank you.
The best places to start finding professionals who have jobs that interest you are your college's career center or alumni association, LinkedIn, Twitter, and StudentMentor.org.
People are the answer to your success, and we can never underestimate the power of a strong community. Start building yours, and watch your life transform.
Isa Adney is the author of Community College Success: How to Finish with Friends, Scholarships, Internships and the Career of Your Dreams. She is a $110,000 Jack Kent Cooke scholarship winner, the first in her family to graduate with a Bachelor's degree, and will complete her M.Ed this June. Isa is also a national college speaker.