What You Actually Learn In College (Or Just What I Learned)
“I can’t wait to graduate high school”
I hear it all the time from my younger cousins. They can’t wait to graduate high school. They say its hard and they don’t like it or they say its boring and to early of a start. But they are going to be in for a rude awakening: College isn’t any easier.
College, by far, is harder than high school. In college you musty balance your social life, homework, classes, chores, sports (if your an athlete). You don’t have your parents to help you with your laundry, food, transportation. Your one your own. You don’t have to do your laundry for 2 months if you want. No one is telling you that you have to. I can remember vividly my roommates laundry pile being as high as my eyes and him paying a female student to do it for him (paid per load).
There are a lot of things pulling you in every direction in college and you have to develop a strategy to deal with them. Or you can eliminate some of those stresses but loose out on the college experience (social life). But looking back on my undergraduate years, aside from the information I learned as a student, there were three major things that I learned that prepared me for the that came after graduation (None of which have to do with any of the 132 Credits to took in 4 years).
1. I learned how to be an Independent Individual
I am the baby of the family. My parents treated me a little different because they knew my older brothers picked on me. But from the day my oldest brother went away to school, my parents started molding me into an independent individual. When I went away to school 4 years later, I had some sense of what I was getting myself into when it came to things outside of class and going out. My room was always clean and I always did my laundry late on Sunday nights. I developed a routine for myself, one in which I stuck to for all my 4 years at school. My friends would hound me when I didn’t go out because I wanted to do homework. But it would bite them in the ass when they had to rush and finish it on Sunday while I was drinking watching football.
The routine I developed in school transferred over easily when I started working. I have the same routine 4 out of the 5 days of the work week (I take Wednesdays off from the gym). But nothing really changes from day to day. My weekends are spontaneous; I rarely schedule anything on the weekends just so I can do what I want. College taught me to be independent and do what I want to do in my free time. I truly came into my own in college and it molded me into an adult.
2. I learned what I am passionate about
When your a kid and a teenager, your kind of at the will of your parents or guardians. You have hobbies and passions but nothing that encompasses you so completely that you breath for it. I was an athlete growing up and in college. I lived and breathed for swimming. It was my life. It was my passion. But when I went to college my idea of swimming changed. It went from being my passion to my job: It was paying for me to get an education.
I was awarded a scholarship to swim in college and I took it seriously. But I started to explore the other aspects of college that I may be interested in. I started to develop a passion for entrepreneurship. The idea of creating something from the ground up and making it your living seemed so interesting to be. By my Junior year, I was the CEO of a small (when I say small I mean 1 employee: Me) company. I found my passion and I could do it for the rest of my life.
Swimming was my passion as a teenager but entrepreneurship is my passion as an adult. I still love swimming and all it did for me. I got to go places I could have only dreamed of, met people that are at the top of the sport. But there was only so high I could get. With my new passion there is no limit. I could do or go where ever my mind can take me.
3. I learned how to learn
In high school you sit through lectures and the teacher don’t really skip any material. They make sure every student understands the information before they move on to the next chapter or subject. In college its a different game.
If you miss a class, your professor doesn’t go back and review a chapter with the entire class. They keep moving forward. Professors have to get through a certain amount of material in the 16 week long semester. Compared to high school: 1 semester=1 full year in high school. In New York, a high school school year is 180 days of school. In college, a semester is 80 of classes. Big difference.
So in college if I didn’t learn anything from any of my classes, I learned this: How to learn information quickly and effectively. Essentially, I learned how to learn. I learned how to retain information quickly by developing studying and reviewing habits. At work, I have to learn on the fly. New information comes in everyday and i have to know it back to front by the end of the day to use it for the next day. Learning doesn’t stop after college. Instead of learning from textbook and homework, I’m learning from other people and the process of critical thinking. Wise word of advise: Never stop learning. If you do, you’ll lose in the game of life.
In short, college molds you into an adult by developing habits that will help you achieve your goals in the future. And if in those years at school you learn some other information from the classes, good for you because a lot people forget 99% of the crap that is taught.