1) Seek out meaning in every class you take
How many of us found ourselves in a class where we couldn't care less about the content? (Raises hand, embarrassingly!) All joking aside, I find that it is an experience we have far too often in college and while we may not enjoy every class we take, I think it's important to find something, even a small detail or topic from a class discussion to pin down and take as our learning point from the class. While this is often an additional effort, it's well worth it, providing motivation and incentive to do our best work and bring more to the class than we would have otherwise. Also, it serves as another way to further our understanding of ourselves and those around us as we consider things from perspectives previously under/unexplored.
2) Consider new classes, even if you never considered that area of study before
This may sound similar to what I wrote about last year with regards to taking classes outside your major, but think this is more about taking a more directed effort to expand the breadth of your college career. There are so many disciplines that can provide a more nuanced and diverse understanding of the topics you are interested in, but are not necessarily required as part of your program of study. I found myself in several such classes this year, and it was largely unplanned. New classes pop up frequently and they often count for different major and minor programs or even general education requirements, making it less of a "extra" class and more manageable to fit into our typically packed course schedules. While completely unexpected, these classes provided me with insight and knowledge that has made my college experience that much more fulfilling. I ended up learning about subjects and issues I had not spent much time contemplating and as a result, gained greater understanding of them as well as topics I had previously studies in other disciplines. The value of these learning experiences cannot be assessed numerically, rather it has to be done with consideration for what you want to gain during your college years.
3) Pace yourself
This is probably the most important lesson I learned this year! By junior year, most of us have gotten into the heart of our program of study and the coursework is often the more complex and time consuming than what we have done previously. That being said, it is easy to feel pressured to take a heavy course load when that's the norm or what your friends are doing. However, as the coursework becomes more involving and you add on internships, work, social obligations, and simply doing the everyday things, your time can seem likes it is running away from you. And in the seemingly never ending mad rush, you tend to stop enjoying college. Something that I found to be of more importance as I've gone through it. You cannot make the most of your time if you're always stressed out or overwhelmed. That's not to say that you should stay in college forever or slack off, but rather plan thoughtfully and make your time fulfilling and engaging without going overboard.
4) Take advantage of opportunities to expand your college experience
College offers so many opportunities for growth and experience, something that can be very overwhelming at times. There are some people who are naturally good at signing up for multiple clubs, student organization positions, social events, and internships and handle them with ease. And then for those who are not as inclined to be in the height of everything, it can be difficult to find one's place and go out there to take advantage of those things. However, it is important to start somewhere. It can be something as simple as doing a voluntary presentation for a class or supporting an event on campus. From there the possibilities are endless and the potential benefits are often more than we can foresee.
5) Think about post-grad plans
Graduation is closer than you think! With that in mind, it is a pretty good idea to start thinking about what comes next. Of course, opportunities and obstacles do pop up so plans do not have to be set in stone, but it helps to start shopping around for potential pathways post college. For some of us, that is grad school, while others it's working in our field or doing long term volunteering or service work. But there are so many other options out there and it is important to go out there and seek them. Visit the industries/fields you are interested in or travel to places you'd like to study or work at. Take an internship. Meet with professors who are studying/have worked in your areas of interest. And don't forget to visit the career center at your university; they have many resources and plenty of insight to help you figure out what you want to pursue next. The thought of being done with "school" and having to figure out what comes next is hard to wrap one's mind around but searching earlier one helps with the transition and reduces anxiety and nervousness over what's to come.
6) Enjoy your time in college
As important as the five things mentioned earlier are, let's not forget to enjoy college for the adventure it is. I think this is something I struggled with at the beginning and only found the right balance for me this year. I found that while my time management was not the greatest, I did take time to simply enjoy college, whether it was hanging out with friends, exploring campus, or going for campus events. I hope to further figure out this balance this coming year (which is going to be really fun as academics don't lighten up senior year!) It requires quite a bit of effort and planning, but that's is better than looking back after graduation and realizing that you didn't have fun along the way and said no to more things that you'd have liked to. It happens once so make the most of it :) (Responsibly for the most part!)