Make the most of your 20s to build a foundation for future success

Credit to Author: Geneviève Beaupré and Susan Qadeer| Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2023 20:46:57 +0000

Your 20s, which often coincide with post-secondary studies, are loaded with opportunities. It could be an excellent time for finding yourself, building a social network, pursuing a career path, while developing personal, academic and intellectual interests.  Try to make the most of these years because it is a good time for learning and making changes. In your twenties, you are typically healthy and not locked in by life’s circumstances, including children and mortgages; therefore this can be a time to invest in your future self. If you find you have made major mistakes in your choices, there is still time to recover.

Academic and intellectual pursuits
Whether you are in a general program or have a prescribed course load, there are many opportunities to broaden your learning. Schools, student clubs and the student associations often invite guests to give talks on various areas of expertise. You can participate in enriching experiences otherwise hard to come by, such as joining school committees, sports, debates, charities, part-time work and more.

Your professors generally expect you to reach out and make use of their office hours to discuss your work for their class. If you have an interest in their area of expertise, they may also welcome a discussion with you including your plans to further intellectual and career pursuits.

Career development
Some students decide on a career path prior to their post-secondary studies and others make a decision during these years. Schools offer services from interest testing to interview preparation. They are equipped to help students from finding part-time and summer employment to researching careers and companies. Using these services will make your career decisions and preparations easier.

Although students may plan for a particular career, they may find that they cannot or do not want to pursue their plan for a variety of reasons. School is one place to work on alternative directions. You can change programs and talk to people who can help you with these decisions and transitions. It is much easier to change course when you are already at school than to do so later on.

Personal care and connections
For some students, post-secondary education coincides with developing independent living and studying skills. They may work on forming new habits that include a better management of time, money and the everyday tasks: shopping, cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc. It is a good time to develop healthy habits such as daily exercise, sufficient sleep, and good nutrition. Many students who were physically active in high school cut back because they are concerned about wasting time. Without this usual activity they find they don’t sleep as well, are sluggish and don’t think as clearly. Some exercise may be vital to your health and education.

Students also need to develop competencies in managing their social and emotional lives. Making friends and finding romantic partners are opportunities for personal growth and creating a supportive network and interesting life. The challenges of life such as managing your own or a family member’s health challenges, unfulfilling romantic attachments, and learning from mistakes can build resilience in young adults.

The search for role models and mentors is part of building an identity that is in line with the person you are and the one you want to be. The twenties are a time for trying things out and making changing if needed. College and university settings can be a productive place for doing this.

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