During her keynote message to the 26th Class of Coca-Cola Scolars at the annual Coke Scholar banquet, former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice shared 7 tips on how to take complete advantage of their college years. These helpful hints generated from her own experiences apply to all soon to be college students. 

1. Don’t Take Your Education for Granted

A chance to have the transformative power of education doesn’t belong to everyone. There are people just as smart and just as capable who are not going to get the same chance. Never take for granted what you are about to do.

2. Find Your Passion

Don’t approach your education worrying about a specific major or thinking about what job you’ll find in the future. Instead find your passion. Find what makes you get up every day and do that. And for some, your passion might just find you.

3. Try something hard

If you’re really good at writing and humanities, take math. If you’re really good at math do some writing, take humanities. You may find you get more fulfillment out of doing things that are hard for you than just continuing to do what comes easily. And then when you meet hard tasks along the way you will be glad that you have taught yourself, that you accomplish something hard.

4. Get to Know Faculty

Get to know your faculty. Find somebody who you think “I’d like to get to know that person”. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and don’t wait for them to come to you. In your faculty you’ll sooner or later find a mentor, somebody who will advocate for you and show you the ropes. (Take it from the Professor herself).

5. Learn Other Cultures

Study abroad or to take foreign languages because there is nothing like getting to know other people’s culture. We’re different, and that’s what makes the world an exciting place.  There is also nothing more humanizing then knowing other people and how they live.

6. Reach Out to Others

Make sure you reach out to others. It’s your responsibility to make sure that there are now weak links. Go and help a child who is trying to learn to read, volunteer at a Boys and Girls club or help an elderly person who perhaps has no one to visit. By doing this you will never feel entitled. In place of asking “why don’t I have?” you will begin to ask “why do I have so much?”  There is no greater joy than seeing the smile on the face of somebody that you’ve helped.

7. Return What You Learn

Take this time to make the most of this journey and then take what you have learned and return it to make us all a stronger, collective, democratic society dedicated to each other and determined that the world will be not as it is but as it should be.