The 2008 U.S. economic slowdown renewed debate about the value of a college degree. In reality, however, there's more to the college experience than classes, as many graduates can attest. One of the most important elements is an active social life, which students need to grow personally. A single-minded focus on academics negates one of the most important elements in the college experience, which is the ability to interact with people from various backgrounds.

Develop Lifelong Connections

Through regular socializing, students develop lifelong connections that pay off in unexpected ways -- often long after leaving the classroom. That's the consensus of graduates such as Evan Bloom, who met his catering business partner at the University of California, reported the Chronicle of Higher Education in May 2011. A fraternity alumnus also helped Bloom land his first major job, as a construction manager, after graduation. Such results are less likely for students who aren't willing to develop an active social life.

Form Good Study Habits

Forming good study habits is an essential, if overlooked, part of college social life. One notable method is forming a peer study group, generally consisting of four to six classmates, the University of Michigan advises. Group members meet to review class materials and prepare for exams. Scheduling regular study times allows members to share insights and personal experiences, and eliminates all-night cram sessions that wear down students' mental and physical health.

Relieve Stress

Socializing relieves the stresses of college life. Connecting with other people is especially important for incoming students as they adjust to the realities of new living arrangements and relationships, according to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's counseling office. These challenges also coincide with the stress of learning to manage your daily life. Reaching out to others helps to ease loneliness and makes it more likely that you'll develop good social skills, which you'll need in the workplace.

Share Common Interests

Not all learning experiences occur inside a lecture hall or a classroom. An active social life also leaves room for joining student organizations, where you can share common interests with people like yourself. Worcester Polytechnic Institute offers 199 clubs, according to Christine Girouard, associate director of student activities. Participating in such groups gives you additional opportunities to explore hobbies and interests with like-minded people, as well as unwind after the demands of a lengthy day of classes.

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