Academics, Academics, Academics
At very minimum, there is no substitute for good grades if you want to get to the places you’re interested in going—a Fulbright, a Marshall, a Churchill, Yale Law, Columbia Med. To make those grades, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices—not always, but often enough. There is ample time—make no mistake—for you to goof off and enjoy leisure, to build the Homecoming float or cheer on the Bears, and take that spring break trip with your friends. Do those things! You will remember them for the rest of your life and be glad. And yet. Because you are serious of purpose, with big dreams and large ambitions, sometimes you will need to say no. The transcript blemish is not worth a night of all-night gaming if it keeps you from chemistry success. Don't do go out that third night in a row if it makes you cut corners on that philosophy essay. Remember who you are: a curious person, someone who is dedicated to larger purposes in the world that run through your academic pursuits. And so, as you do say yes to the fun things you’ll remember forever, manage your time well so that the fun does not detract from your deepest commitments.
In addition, don’t shy away from the hard classes and the hard professors, particularly the ones who are going to challenge you. Don’t cut corners. Instead, take your inspiration from someone like Nathan, who persevered in both his sociology and his statistics major and even included some hard electives, like "Data Science for Social Good." This rigor landed Nate a highly competitive Fulbright Study/Research Award to Denmark. Or Olivia, who defied the odds and sought majors in two different schools—Arts & Sciences and Music—while earning majors in piano performance and German. The Germany Fulbright Commission could hardly resist someone with so dedicated to the difficult task of learning both these "languages," which are the medium of her cultural ambassadorship in Germany.
As you devote yourself over time to the academic life, you will wake up one day to find that you know something. And as Aristotle observed, "teaching is the highest form of understanding."
Find ways to teach.