The Most Important Lessons You Learn in College

Professors have this belief that there is a lot to be learned from sitting through a lecture or slaving over a textbook. Well, there may be, but there is a whole lot more to learn as a college student that doesn't come straight from the classroom.

Budgeting (both time and money)

Webster’s Dictionary defines "college student" as follows: “College Student: (n.) a poor youth.” Well, maybe that wasn’t Webster’s, but someone said it. Anyway, balancing the prices of alcohol with clothes, activities and food is not always easy. Some lean further toward the alcohol side than others, but that just means that you will have to compromise elsewhere. You’ll quickly realize that it isn’t just money that can be limiting. Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. We’ve had this fact checked time and time again, and it always remains the same.

How to live with friends

You may have the same sense of humor, favorite TV shows and taste in music as your friends, but chances are that you will differ in cleanliness, sleep cycles and noise levels. As much as you enjoy living with them, they will also teach you a lot about tolerance for others. Unlike siblings, you cannot scream at them and pull their hair when things don’t go your way. Living with your pals is infinitely rewarding, though. It means you will come home to your biggest support team each and every day. Beyond just that, your friends also have friends that you don’t already know, which will only broaden your friendship network.

Independent study skills

Contrary to freshman year belief, your friends are not always going to drag you to the library. In order to enjoy Saturday football games and Friday night festivities, you are going to have to clean up your act at the library every once in a while. A lot of your friends will have completely different professors, classes and even majors than you do, so it is not uncommon for them to be unable to help you out. They may be frolicking on Newbury Street while you study for two exams, but you may be watching Netflix in bed while they are actively writing 25-page papers.

Gavel Media

Gavel Media

Small talk

Because we are all so different, a conversation with someone that you wouldn’t normally find yourself with can give you a chance to learn and gain perspective. Who knows, a simple conversation may even lead to a lasting friendship, but it certainly doesn’t have to. There are other benefits to small talk— it certainly helps in interviews and future social situations. If there is anything that our CSOM companions have taught us is important, it’s networking. Another key skill that comes with small talk is the ability to respectfully disagree with the opinion of others.

Public speaking is not a big deal

Do you remember the first time that you presented a project to your fourth grade class? Those index cards probably came in handy. What about the first time in high school that you heard those dreaded words, “No notes allowed.” The more you present, the less noticeable that fear is. Your anxiety surrounding public speaking is eventually lowered, and you may even volunteer to give a speech. What you realize in college is that none of your peers care to judge you. If you did the work, you already know the material, so it isn’t very hard to regurgitate that information. In fact, presenting becomes a norm for many.

How to deal with drunk people

You will probably learn your own limits in college, but you will probably be lucky enough to learn your friends’ limits as well. At times, these scenarios may be entertaining, while other incidences may be a bit frustrating. Still, you can’t forget about the potential of a concerning situation. What do you do when you think your roommate is dead on the second day of freshman year? Well, first you panic, and then you realize she’s just sleeping. Still, the red zone is a dangerous territory that needs to be taken seriously.

Your parents will love you no matter what

I used to call my parents every other week, but now it’s more like every other day. That said, they are going to love you no matter how often you call them. Still, don’t forget to thank them. They have been there for you through thick and thin, and they are supporting you in your education from afar.

Realizing your GPA is just a number

For some, a GPA is a measure of how well partying can be balanced with cramming. For others, it is more of a gauge of how many hours can be spent in the library. Smart students can end up with horrible GPAs, while other kids can get by with some luck. A lot of emphasis is put on GPA by parents, teachers and even friends, but your GPA says very little about you as a person. It takes no measure of your creativity, your interpersonal skills or your ability to reason. In fact, Google doesn’t even ask applicants for GPA or test scores anymore.

You are full of potential

You’ve heard this time and time again from Mom and Dad. In reality, they were saying it because it’s their job to say it, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t true. You’ve grown a lot, both as a person and a student, over the years; your classes, professors and friends have shaped who you are. That said, there is a lot more to come, and college is far from being an end point.

Be yourself

Your friends don’t want to be friends with you for the outfits you wear or the number of beers that you chug. They want to be friends with you for your corny jokes, your weird hobbies and your ability to be a loyal friend. They picked you for a reason, and if someone doesn’t see eye to eye with you, that’s fine. You aren’t going to be friends with everyone, and that only makes the close pals you have infinitely more special.


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I'll pack my favorite red slippers when I become an astronaut. Colored pencil enthusiast, mother of parasites, part-time pilot. Runs in large circles and obsesses over dogs.