As a college student, I can safely say that we all spend a lot of our time wondering, “What am I actually doing here?” In this day and age, with a million other people getting the exact same degree as you, the competition in the professional world is both real and terrifying. You find yourself wondering, “Is all this time and money worth it?” While you may never use what you learned in ARTH 204: East Asian Art History ever again (this was a complete waste of time, literally), you can rest assured that you learn actual life lessons in college that you wouldn’t be able to acquire anywhere else.
1. The essential skill of time management. Any student in any program can agree that this is an asset you will need the second you step onto a university campus, right up until you leave. There are no high school teachers or guidance counselors hanging around waiting for you to ask for an extension. It’s just you and your planner. The necessity for this skill won’t disappear after your time at school, either. Jobs, marriages, children – your entire future is filled with a need to plan your time wisely.
2. The importance of surrounding yourself with people who truly support you. College is incredibly fun, but it’s also physically, emotionally, and psychologically draining. You usually have a super long to-do list and not much time to check everything off. You quickly realize that you don’t have time for pointless relationships anymore – you need friends you can count on to help you succeed. This is true of the real world: it’s draining and it moves quickly. You have to stick with the people who lift you up to get where you want to go.
3. The knowledge that “with great risk, comes great reward.” From your first frat party, to your first day at work, you gotta risk it to get the biscuit. My rule of thumb is that if it scares you, you’re doing something worthwhile. This applies to college and beyond: if you want something, you have to go out and get it, whether it’s the presidency of your students’ association or the promotion you’ve been working towards all year.
4. The ability to advocate for yourself. No one is looking out for you in college. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic; it’s just a fact that there are no guidance counselors or coaches there to guide you. Your decisions are entirely up to you, so if you disagree with a mark, march yourself into your professors’s office hours and explain why. Similarly, if you’re not ready for your boyfriend to move in, say so!
5. The significance of first impressions. Your “first days,” “first interviews” and first dates don’t end when you graduate. From the quality of your conversation at dinner to the firmness of your handshake in your interview, whatever you do in those first few hours of meeting someone is how that person will remember you. The great thing about moving from college into the real world is that your first impressions for each person can be drastically different. If your entrance into college was followed by some party girl years, “the real world” will be your chance to redefine yourself!
The “real world” can be really intimidating, seemingly filled with the unknown. However, you know a lot more than you think. Not only do you have a beautifully framed degree for your first office (a girl can dream), but you also have four years of quasi-life experience. Chin up – your college tuition got you a lot more than you realize!