6 Valuable Lessons From the College Experience


I highly recommend college. The college experience is quite the challenge, but the valuable opportunities and lessons you learn cannot be traded, whether they come from typical classes or an internship/apprenticeship. I might be entering a semi mental breakdownafter realizing that I only have two more quarters left of college until I AM DONE FOREVER! Okay, perhaps this won't be the end of college for the rest of my life, but I have to take at least a few good years off to relish the accomplishment of obtaining my bachelor's degree.

The following list reflects only a sliver of the takeaways I've received during my time in college.

1. "Everything you want is on the other side of fear." - Jack Canfield

I learned this lesson while I was in the middle of my very first internship at a local children's museum, helping to manage and increase success for their inbound marketing methods and digital content.

I've always been the type of person to become increasingly nervous about new situations, although I handle them quite well once I'm thrust in head first. When my mentor reminded me that the only way to become better and fulfill my goals was to push through the fear, I allowed myself to feel it.

2. The concept of multiple selves: expect to become, hope to become, fear becoming.

The idea of multiple selves comes from the study of psychology and the idea that there are three main facets to people's "selves": who they expect to become, hope to become and fear becoming. The combination of these is what drives people to either positively reach their goals or ultimately, negatively fail.

3. Never ever listen to the noise.

There is a concept of "noise" within the book "Roadmap" written by Roadtrip Nation, an organization comprised of green RVs and students that have graduated college, seeking guidance for their future careers and what they are now going to do with their lives. These students travel the world speaking to influential change-makers, discovering what exactly led them to their current positions of power.

"Noise" is defined as the babbling we all hear from our family members, friends, teachers, strangers and society that tells us we need to aim for a "safe career"--one that has a well-beaten path and guaranteed outcome, instead of thinking outside the box and designing a career around our interests and foundation. See my review of Roadmap here. We must begin to tear down the noise or we risk losing our opportunity to feel truly fulfilled within our career.

4. Take a business class. It will change your life.

The most influential class in terms of my personal financial livelihood was a business class. Sure, this had a lot to do with which professor I took it from and the fact that I attended an interdisciplinary, liberal arts college that encourages students to pursue their own business goals outside of the typical expectations of those "safe careers", but I think a business class is critical no matter where you attend.

Business classes help you evaluate what you're good at and how your interests can do good for your community, or the greater world. Along with political philosophy and law, business classes also lead you to the realizations of what you do and don't desire in your future job, ethically speaking.

5. Don't fret if you don't get into your first or second choice program.

At my college, like many others, registration is made on a grade-level basis, which means the seniors register first to ensure they have top priority and get the classes they need before graduation, and freshmen register last with only a few spots left.

One quarter during my freshman year, I was unable to register for my first and second choice programs and utterly freaked when I wasn't able to find anything in the course catalog as time was ticking away on registration. I scanned a program description that related to civil rights studies and critical race theory (CRT) and thought: "This looks intriguing!"

Turns out, it was one of the most monumental and strongly impacting courses I would ever take, and molded me into a stronger activist than I ever would've been had I not hit this stroke of luck.

6. Real life, in-the-field experiences matter more than textbooks.

While I'm not condoning that you skip out on homework (like really don't... I'm actually advocating for everything that's the opposite), I really want to instill the idea that internships matter most. Real life experience of working directly in the field is valued much higher by potential employers than whether or not you spent your entire college career taking classes in your field.

It's normal to not know what you want to do with your life when you first start the college experience and I learned 3x as much during my hands-on internships as opposed to sitting through classes.


Was this post helpful? Consider checking out my post on thriving and embracing the college experience. If you've already graduated, help out the newbies by leaving some of your wisest takeaways in the comments!