I was flying to Dallas to put on an event for my new job and I pulled out my Moleskine mid-flight. While I felt cliché writing the words, I forced myself to write the words “What I learned in 4 years of college:” on one of the pages. As I stared out the window as we soared above the clouds, I tried to look back over four years of college and boil down the most important lessons I learned so I could share with others who were about to enter college, are in my same shoes, or need to be reminded. I jotted down a list of 13 on the flight. In no way is the even close to an exhaustive list, but, as I look over them, they define some of the most important moments of my college experience. While it is all to easy to write endless posts about each statement, I do not want to get lost in the meticulous explanations of rationale that led me to think why I do. I want to offer just enough structure and guidance for you to find yourself in my experiences, in hopes that something I have learned may resonate with you and offer a new perspective to view this season of life. Enjoy.
- People will walk in and out of your life. [Read]
- Know who to hold onto and who to keep open-handed. [Read]
- Get involved in a local church. [Read]
- Live with people who will challenge you. [Read]
- You never know who will become a close friend. [Read]
Take classes you enjoy, not just GPA boosters.
High school is all about getting the grades that will get you into the college you want to go to in the future. So, you take rigorous schedule littered with as many AP or IB classes as you can fit, submit standardized tests scores, and pad your extra-curricular activities all to impress the admissions department. Once you get to campus, none of that matters anymore. Everyone is on an equal playing field because everyone has arrived to this pinnacle moment they have been working so hard to get to and the question hits: now what? College is the place where you are told to “figure out what you want to do with your life.” Many freshmen and sophomores have nervous breakdowns about their major and switch it ten times before they graduate. I had an English professor say once, “You are a sophomore or a junior, you aren’t supposed to know what you are going to do with your life; it’s okay!” Unfortunately, this sentiment gets taken as “I’ll just coast on through college and get a generic degree in something I can put forth the least amount of effort that I really do not care about.” It culminates in a class list full of “1101: Intro to [fill in the blank]” semester after semester. Because many are still stuck in one of two mindsets. Either “I must perform well in order to…” or “I don’t want to put forth the effort so I’ll just…” Both of these are detrimental in college. College is a place of discovery and learning. While a social life is important, the reality is you are at college to get a degree; it is, after all, what you tuition is paying for. Therefore, why waste your time learning information that you do not care about, are not interested in, or even remotely close to what you want to do with your life? Many would say “Because it’s easy. I need an easy class because…” If that easy class is one you end up skipping out on, sleeping through, or consistently checking out of, how is that benefiting you at all? GPA boosters are not helpful to learning; they are detrimental. Why not take classes that interest you? Why not sit through information that is beneficial for your future? Why not make the most of your classtime? Why not engage in learning things that excite you and get you fired up? Why not challenge yourself and become better rather than settling for the easy road? What would four years of learning look like if you studied things that made you come alive? This is something that I did not grasp until too late. If I had a chance, I would go back and take things that I was interested in rather than just easy classes to get better grades. Because I will never have the opportunity to sit in a classroom and learn like that again. To me, that was an opportunity that was not taken full advantage of I wish I could change.