The 7 Biggest Lessons I Learned in College (and They Didn't Involve a Classroom)
Looking back on my college experience, I learned a lot throughout the course of those four years. Yes, I left well-versed in Photoshop and thesis writing, but my education went so much deeper than the classroom. In fact, the most influential lessons I took with me had nothing to do with textbooks; they involved figuring out (sometimes the hard way!) how to become a responsible, balanced adult, and ultimately getting to know myself and what I wanted from life better.
For many of us, college can be a game of trial and error, and the person we are on the first day of freshman orientation can feel lightyears away from the one who walks across the graduation stage. For me, the time I spent in college was invaluable, not just for the degree itself, but because it's where I finally grew up. Here are biggest lessons I learned outside of the classroom walls that I'll carry with me forever.
Budget, Budget, Budget!
This one I learned the hard way. The money would inevitably run out, and when it did, mom and dad weren't there to pick up my tab at dinner or put gas in my car. I learned the importance of looking at my monthly finances (which, let's be real, I was a poor college student, so it wasn't a lot). I calculated and kept track of how much I needed for bills and necessities and how much I could spend on the fun stuff.
How to Pull My Weight as a Roommate
True story: I pulled the covers off my bed one night to discover a bowl of hardened leftover queso planted just below my pillow. It apparently had been inside the refrigerator for nearly three weeks, and my roommates had reached their breaking point. (We laugh about this story today!) When I first moved into my freshman apartment, I was thrilled with the freedom. No one to tell me I couldn't go out before I cleaned my bathroom and to eat the rest of my dinner. What I didn't realize is that other people would still hold me accountable, and I needed to take strides to make sure I was doing my part to be a good and clean roommate.
No One Was Going to Do My Laundry For Me
I was given weekly chores growing up, but my mom always handled the family laundry. Once I was in college, with my mom 1,000 miles away, the laundry was now up to me. I definitely dried delicate clothing on high and put a silk white blouse in with blacks and purples, but a handful of shrunken tops later, I finally acquired this necessary life skill.
Procrastination Rarely Pays
Throughout high school, I was typically able to put off a task until the last minute, then chug a cup of coffee and knock it out. Well, as it turns out, you usually can't do that at a collegiate level, especially with big projects and papers. I learned the importance of beginning a large commitment early, then dedicating a few hours a day to it to ensure it gets done right. It's something I've carried over into the deadline-driven real world.
Time Management Is Key
From class to studying to parties to football games to my part-time job, there were times I thought my head would spin right off my head. I got exhausted quickly, and my health and sanity began to suffer. But I eventually learned how to balance my time, and it was a total game changer. I was finally getting enough sleep and checking all the tasks off my list — tailgating with my friends included.
No One Has It All Figured Out
I had always assumed that adults had it all together. My teachers, coaches, parents' friends, etc. — they knew who they were, what they wanted, and how to get it. One of the biggest realizations of adulthood for me was, and still is to this day, that most of us are just along for the ride and doing the best we can.
My Goals and Dreams Will Change All the Time
When I began my freshman year, I knew I wanted to go into sports broadcasting. Two years in, I fell in love with news feature writing, then six months after that, with web content creation. I learned that plans, while a nice thing to have, are always subject to change and should never be restrictive. My dreams would continue to evolve as I got older, and that didn't make them any less significant.