10 Things College Really Teaches Students

Disclaimer: Anything written in this blog represents the opinions of the author, and no one else. Each blog is written lightly, and is not intended to offend any of the mentioned businesses, locations, students, or staff.

As I sit at work, hoping that my glare on its own will complete the list of assignments in front of me, I find myself contemplating the knowledge I have gained throughout my first year in college. I wonder if the information I have learned is more useful to use to study for finals or in helping me actually succeed (whatever “success” means, I’m not even sure I know yet…) in life. Here is what I have learned… Also, I apologize for the continuously long blogs that I publish. I am working on shortening them, one step at a time. Take it or leave it! 🙂

1) 1) You can’t eat whatever you want.

Yes, it is true; you are what you eat. You may have been able to burn off the fat from the excess snacks that you ate in high school during track or cheer practice but for most of us, we no longer have the privilege to play on a sports team five days a week once we enter college. Academics become our main focus. This means that the snack intake increases, and the exercise decreases. So, pay attention to what you eat. Pick up some celery (which upon eating it actually makes you burn more calories than you gain) instead of the Doritos that are calling your name.

2) 2) Showing up does matter.
In high school, showing up to class was a requirement. In college, it is more of an option. You don’t have the whip of your parents behind you pushing you to school or the phone calls home from the automated voice system if you skip a class. Therefore, showing up to class does make a difference. It will, 9 times out of 10, change that B+ to an A-. It sounds silly to say that simply showing up can earn you credit but nowadays when anyone with a bank account is welcomed with open arms to college, it does make a difference.

3) 3) No one cares what you did in high school.
We get it. You are the A-student, president of every club, and teacher’s pet who was supposed to go to some Ivy League college, but for some reason ended up with the rest of us. You may have perfected the use of note cards, or discovered the format of every test in order to ace it in high school, but in college, you are just like the rest of us. As freshmen, we are all bottom-feeders and you have to start from square one again, just like the rest of us. And please, don’t put that you were in the Leadership Council in high school on your resume. Your employers will be just as irritated as the rest of us.

4) 4) Communication is key.
No matter what major you decide to take, the most important skills will always be communication skills. Above all else, speaking, reading, listening, and interpersonal skills rise above all else in the professional world. This can be reflected in things as simple as how you write Emails to things as nerve-raking as presentations. Take this to your advantage. Even if you aren’t sure if you used the right equation, present your project to the best of your ability by speaking clearly and enthusiastically. Even if you have to miss an hour or two of work because of extending circumstances, communicate it clearly and in advance to your boss and he/she will definitely let it slide. All of this will make you feel, and look, much more like a real adult and not just some 18-year-old.

5) 5) If they don’t recognize you in public, they aren’t worth your time.
We have all had those flings that are far more romantic in our mind than in public. College is a time to cut that out. Freshman year provides some wiggle room for mistakes. It is a time to discover who is truly worth your time. By your senior year though, there is no reason to continue seeing someone who doesn’t treat you as well as you know you deserve to be treated. A little trick that helps: if you feel even a little bit of that funny feeling in the back of your throat (like when you just lied to your parents) when you think about them, or if you are too embarrassed (after more than two weeks) to look them in the eye, then it probably isn’t the best fit.

6) 6) There is a ridiculous amount of time in the day.
Although as humans we prefer to procrastinate 99% of the time, there is plenty of time during the day to complete what needs to get done. What you want to get done, and what you need to get done are two different things. As long as you have a realistic to-do list, then there is no question that it is possible to complete it. Stop doubting your abilities and making excuses. It’s an embarrassing quality. Realize your potential, and exceed it. We can do it!

7) 7) Doing work doesn’t always involve homework.
For many college students, passing college includes dealing with the obstacles in-between college such as work and other extra-curricular activities. Even if you don’t need the money (even though, in reality, what college student couldn’t do with a little extra cash?), pick up a shift or two at a local coffee shop, or become a member of a club that interests you. You may find that the extra responsibility motivates you in other parts of your life. If not, that’s great, too. Everyone is different. That’s important to recognize within itself.

8) 8) Change adds up.
Attention college students: Piggy banks are back in style! It is no longer worth saving the extra time by letting the cashier “save the change.” Keep every penny, nickel, dime, and quarter and before you know it, you will have clean laundry every week and will no longer need to lend money from your roommate who you plan to “pay back on Friday.”

9) 9) You are no longer under the microscope.
Phew. College does not mimic the small hallways and gossip pool that high school creates. Social stigmas will never fail to exist, but allow yourself some freedom. In college, it’s no longer as important who you sit with at lunch, but what classes you plan to take next semester. Who you spent the weekend with doesn’t compare to the opportunity to represent your college or club at the Winter Carnival or Spring-fest. Professional success is far more attractive than how messy you got at a party last night.

1 10) College is by no means the real world.
Although we are told that college is a “taste of the real world” it is important to recognize that dorm-life etiquette, and dining hall manners are strictly part of the college lifestyle and not the adult (“real”) world. Living off campus may be more rewarding by the time you are nearing graduation, than staying in the small world of campus life for the entirety of the four years or more it takes you to graduate.

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