College has taught me a lot, no doubt. If you ever need to know the parts of a neuron and their function, I gotchu. If you need me to run a statistical analysis on the relationship between self-esteem and hand size, I can do that too. I'm also pretty well versed in Renaissance era art.
If you're not catching my sarcasm, the majority of what we learn in the classroom does not carry over to real life or a career. While I'm not saying it's a bad thing - to be well-read is probably the best thing a person can do for themselves, I'm just saying that many times, those lessons are not the ones that we take home at the end of the 4 years.
One thing we learn is that we are resilient. Seriously, college students are not given enough credit for our uncanny ability to bounce back. Whether you are one to spend hours studying, stay up all night to perfect a paper, or even the ones who can go out all night and get belligerently drunk and go to an 8 am the next day. I personally don't understand how, but still that takes a lot of adaptability.
I'm pretty confident when I say, every college student goes through some sort of mental wellness crisis. Whether it is just an identity dilemma, or a serious struggle with depression, many of us fall somewhere on that spectrum at some point in our college career. Yet, some how we fester up the strength to pull through and still succeed. If that is not resilience at its finest, I don't know what is.
Responsibility. Sounds like a no brainer, but it's probably one thing that college students struggle with the most. There is a whole side of responsibility that can really pack a punch. There the obvious taking care of yourself and life's responsibilities. Things like laundry, showering and money management. The trick is, we have to be consistent with it. But the second layer to responsibility, is that intrinsic responsibility.
As human being we suck at taking responsibility for our mistakes, failures and changes we may need. Mom and dad were great at helping us through that throughout grade school, but coming to college brings a whole new level of self-awareness we must have. And, when we come in as prideful, ignorant freshman, that aspect hits us like a brick wall. Some of us learn quickly, others, not so much. But, eventually we all figure it out to some extent, at least.
Another big thing we learn is to love thy self. Ever heard the quote 'all those years of education and no one ever taught us how to love ourselves.' Well, It couldn't be more true. If anything, the classroom is a breading ground for self-ridicule. No grade or GPA, number of friends or shots of vodka will ever make you love yourself - that comes from within. During our time in university, many of us come face to face with accepting that reality.
I could go on forever about this specific topic, but ill just leave it with this; Self-love comes from acceptance of how and who you are in the here and now, compassion for your mistakes and knowing your worth does not come with standards - you are worthy because you are you.
Unfortunately, college really likes to test this notion i.e. 'C' is doing what you need, but to get and 'A' you're above and beyond. Join clubs, organizations, get a job, have a social life, 'Join our sorority to find a home'. If you are not doing more, you are not doing enough - you are not enough...
So wait, other things beside myself define my worth? WRONGO. While college culture tests our sense of belonging and worth, I've come to understand that where there is a test there is a lesson and where there is a lesson, there is something we learn. And, If I have learned anything from these past couple of years, it is that I can be a part of may things, but the true value is internal - cheesy, I know. But it's true.
One thing I wish I realized long ago is that fulfillment only comes if you do what you love. We come to school with a plan - 'I'm going to major in neuroscience and minor in business and become a doctor'. While this remains a passion for some, many of us quickly realize we don't want to do that for the rest of our lives. But we stick with it, maybe due to pride, maybe because we're financially trapped, but we often end up just 'getting a degree' and never delving into the things we love.
So many times I have a conversation where people don't know what they want to do. I always ask what their passion is. Many times it's music, art, writing or humanitarian rights. And then I find out they're an accounting major because 'that's where the money is'. But money can't buy happiness.
I get it, we live in a 'time is money', 'practicality is the rationality' kind of culture. But the human condition isn't selfless. Ultimately college is a place where we are supposed to find our passion, but our dream crushing society places shame on not catering to it pigon-holed definition of success.
Do what you love. seriously. Whether It entails a college education or not. Go do it. College taught me that college isn't necessarily for everyone. It is portrayed as necessary to be successful. But success is subjective and if you are doing something you love and have a burning for, you'll feel just as, if not more, successful as the president of a thriving business.
The college education is incredible, valuable, and powerful. But the college experience brings a whole slew of life lessons that are truly priceless. As they say, four years of college packs ten years of real life.