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. [Read]
- Make new friends, but do not forget old ones. [Read]
- Keep family in the loop on a regular basis. [Read]
Prioritize urgent, important, and fun.
In college, no one tells you what you can and cannot do. You could be studying for a midterm that is on Wednesday and your friends can call you up on Tuesday night and persuade you to go to a movie. In that moment, you are solely responsible for a decision: you can study or go to the movie. You might feel guilty depending on what choice you make, but it is ultimately your decision what to prioritize during your time in college. There is graphic that floating around the Internet that shows the important lesson about priority: you cannot have everything you want. College is the time where you learn to juggle and/or manage the different areas of life. The problem many run into is balance. The problem is not the balance; it is never achieving a balanced life. Usually we skew one way or another. We either sacrifice our fun at the altar of achievement, or we abandon our work for the thrill of our social life. The pendulum can swing one way or another depending on the week, but we rarely keep the pendulum in the middle. You have to learn how to priorities what is urgent, what is important, and what is fun. That does not mean it has to stay in that order, but you do need to have the self-discipline to know what needs to get done and to get it done. Sometimes that looks like texting a friend “No” to going downtown a couple days before an exam because you know studying two or three days out will make things easier down the road. Other times it is dropping everything you are doing to make a late-night Taco Bell run with your roommates. I know this sound so contradictory, but prioritization allows for flexibility. Knowing the place of each task in your day allows you get done exactly what you need to get done and be open to what ever else comes up. It creates space for the spontaneous because you feel satisfied with what you have accomplished. Learning to prioritize the urgent first, followed by what is important, allows for fun to fill in the gaps. And do not forget, sometimes, fun has to be your top priority… it just cannot be all the time.