One Year Later — Life Lessons College Doesn't Teach
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One Year Later — Life Lessons College Doesn't Teach

College is a time to learn, but some lessons just can't be taught in a classroom.

One Year Later — Life Lessons College Doesn't Teach

It's been just over a year since I left my "freshman school" and began what would be considered by many to be "real life". I went from being a full-time residential student to a full-time employee at one of my dream companies. It's been a difficult yet incredibly rewarding year, but I wouldn't be anywhere else. I love what I do, and I love my job.

I suppose a lot of my day-to-day experiences aren't relatable to people here yet, but they will be soon, and I'm here to help. No matter what your class standing is in college right now, the real world is closer than you think. I never thought I'd be where I am today a year ago, and I certainly wasn't even close to ready, but after a year of permanent work, I have learned a lot of lessons that cannot be taught in any classroom. It's a lot different in the working world, and here are some of the most important lessons I've learned.

Homework Doesn't Stop at Graduation

The college grind can be a difficult one. Projects, assignments, and papers are plentiful, and some nights, it might seem like they'll never end. I remember many sleepless nights at the end of my first semester where I found myself buried in deadlines to meet and finals to study for. I made it, but I always had a hope that it would only last through my time as a student.

What I found was quite the opposite. There are no "grades" in most jobs, but there certainly are deadlines and expectations. You won't get any As or Bs, but your performance matters. There are no Scantron tests to take, no finals to cram for, but there is always an expectation to keep learning. It becomes much more self-paced, and falling behind carries a much greater consequence than one poor test grade. My goal every day is to learn as much as I can.

Balance is Key

By the end of four years in college, you might consider yourself a master in balance. Balance can mean a lot of different things, though. For me, balance in college was keeping up with my grades while trying to keep my social life alive. It may not have always worked as well as I hoped, but I thought that would be the only balance I'd need.

In the working world, balance takes on an entirely new meaning. It's often called work-life balance, and it does matter. A lot. When I first started my job, I was eager to work as much as I physically could. Overtime pay was a nice benefit, but I didn't think I really had much to balance aside from work and sleep. I've learned that the working world is more than just work - it's finding enough time to enjoy yourself outside the office. I've started teaching myself to cook and working on my skills as a writer here at Odyssey. Burnout is a real thing, and it will happen quickly if you don't learn to balance work and life.

Opportunity is Everywhere

One of the biggest "selling points" of my freshman school was the number of student organizations to get involved with around campus. The club list showed everything from academic pursuits to intramural sports to things so mundane they may well have been invented by the leaders themselves. One of my biggest mistakes in school was never taking advantage of them - I found a few that piqued my interests and let the rest fall to the wayside. If I could go back and do it over, I would force myself to try a ton of them instead of staying in my comfort zones.

The working world is no different. No matter what you do or where you work, there are no doubt going to be a ton of new people with new interests who'd love to "show you the ropes". There is more to any job than simply what's on your job description. It's up to you to make the most of it. Maybe that's trying a new rec-league sport after work, maybe it's learning a skill from someone you work with (I'm learning to code in C), or maybe it's finding a group to explore happy hours with. The more connected you can become, the more successful you will be.

The transition is hard, there's no question about it. Nobody is truly ready for it, trust me. You aren't alone. Don't be a passerby, don't be a wallflower, and don't be the same person you were in college. Reach out, branch out, and take it all in. The working world is terrifying, but it is absolutely awesome.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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