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10 Tips for Thriving in College Life

08/03/2012 02:42 pm ET | Updated Oct 03, 2012

Psychologists say that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. As a college professor, I strongly disagree. I believe that you can learn from the past, live in the present, and work on your future.

However, scientific research also reveals that the brain's impulse mechanism is not fully developed until around the age of 25. So if you do something incredibly stupid or irrational in your college life and don't know why, at least science is on your side!

With that message in mind, here are my 10 tips for thriving in college life:

1. Live up to and learn to exceed your own expectations, not those imposed on you by family, peers, or cultural images from television and the movies.

2. If you are away from home for the first time, bring three loads of laundry back on your first trip home. On future trips, you'll know you've adjusted to college life when you stop bringing home dirty laundry.

3. In college, like high school, you face many "fitting in" tests. The good news is that college offers many more choices to join social organizations which match your interests, and thus a greater opportunity to fit in quicker with others.

4. Join a career-focused student organization in your freshman year and volunteer to do everything. You will be noticed, stand out, and eventually position yourself to run that organization. You will then have something unique to put on your resume.

5. Learn what your strengths are and how to use them in stressful situations. You already know what your weaknesses are -- now figure out how to compensate for them.

6. Examine your limits of love in college. When you hear the magic but scary words "If you love me," at what point do you lay low in the weeds?
a. If you love me, you'll do the laundry tonight.
b. If you love me, you'll visit my mom this weekend.
c. If you love me, you'll help me cheat on that exam.
d. If you love me, you'll help me bury that corpse stashed in my dorm room.

7. Success is about you and your friends achieving goals. Your motto should not be "Why not me?" Rather, make it "Why not us, why not me?"

8. Empathy towards others is not a weakness. It is a quality of maturity, strength, and clarity.

9 If possible, study abroad for a summer or semester. You'll learn more about life and yourself than you will at your home institution.

10. Live life with no regrets but understand the consequences of your decisions, whether they relate to classes, your future, or personal matters.

Perry Binder is a legal studies professor at Georgia State University. His college life tips are from his book, 99 Motivators for College Success, along with other tips on his 99 Motivators blog.