College is a living, working community of people achieving higher learning. Most colleges are in fact like their own towns, complete with residential areas, dining spots, stores, gyms, etc. Much of a student’s experience and learning therefore extends far beyond the classroom. But if you’re a commuter student or are attending a college very close to home, you may need some extra tips on getting the authentic “college experience”. Allow this to be your guide:

College Readiness Tip # 1: Consider Living on Campus for at Least a Semester

Especially if you’re a freshman, living on campus for at least a semester greatly helps you to embrace everything your college has to offer and to find your place there. Room and board is costly, but campus living can be very worthwhile in the end.

College Readiness Tip # 2: Get Involved

This is easily the most important thing you can do to further your college experience. Join a club or get involved in a sport. Most schools have so many student organizations that it’s hard not to find something you’re interested in. Getting involved will help you spend more time on campus and build strong friendships with other students while doing something you enjoy.

College Readiness Tip # 2: Be Social

Being social doesn’t have to mean going out and partying every weekend. Rather, you can attend campus events like carnivals, job and interest fairs, plays, movie screenings, sporting events, etc. There’s no reason to hibernate at home when you don’t have class.

College Readiness Tip # 4: Strive to Be As Independent as Possible

A large part of the college experience is learning to be an independent, self-supporting adult. After all, most people start college right out of high school as teenagers who have always relied on their parents, but come graduation they are capable young adults who are ready to enter the workforce. So, stop relying on your parents for every meal, start doing your own laundry, provide your own transportation, etc.

The more you step out of your comfort zone, the more you’ll grow as a person. So, don’t be afraid to push yourself in your academic, professional and personal life. Focus on building a life for yourself at your college rather than just going to it for class. In the end, you’ll earn far more than a degree.