I was reflecting on the past 4 years in college this morning. I was, during my breakfast, thinking of the lessons I learned in college that made it worth my time. I hadn’t thoughts about this before. I used to believe that college wasn’t that much use to me. Giving it some thought today changed that. I actually concluded that there were quite a number of important life lessons that I learned in college. I choose to share the 5 most impactful ones with you. Now, these are all over the place, but they have made my time in college worth it. I think that these 5 lessons can be learned outside of college as well, but I do believe college is for most people the best place to learn these.
You’ll see that most of these lessons apply to everything outside of college and that they have nothing to do with the college itself. That is because I have seen that college is but a step up, a sort of playground for what life is really about. It’s in college that everything is still safe, and not that daunting. That makes it such a great place to go bold. That boldness is something that we should cherish, even after college. Especially throughout our twenties. Let’s start this article off right, by giving you the one lesson that literally changed, and will remain to change, my life till the end of my days.
One: You Can Learn Everything You Want Without College
College is like this expensive version of YouTube, at least for creative college degrees. Going to college to become a lawyer, nurse, doctor, engineer, or any other profession that requires us to be skilled enough before starting a job, is really important. I would not want a doctor that learned to operate on a human body through YouTube videos or online classes. These professions require a level of expertise that can only be learned in a place like college where you can fail safely.
Creative professions on the other hand are better off without college. During my years in college studying interaction design, I have only learned the fundamentals, which I now see all come from books I am reading right now. Books like persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, or Sapiens and 10 types of humans. These are all human psychology books on which a lot of the study was based. That’s why I made that bold statement that college for me has just been an expensive version of YouTube.
What I did learn was, that if I wanted to improve myself I didn’t have to wait for a teacher to show me. This is the biggest lesson we can take from college. In college, we are waiting for the teacher to show us what we have to learn. In ‘real’ life we have to teach ourselves the skills we have to learn. We cannot wait for someone to teach us what we need. We need to take responsibility for that and start educating ourselves. That’s the beauty of this day and age we are living in. We have all these possibilities to learn. On YouTube, and platforms like Skillshare, Masterclass, but also through Instagram, Seminars, Online Courses, and many more. These are more effective than college can ever be. Because we can decide when to attend, and how fast we want to learn. In college, we oftentimes have to wait for the slower learners in class. This isn’t to blame them, each one of us has a different learning speed, it’s the way college is set up that creates this gap.
That’s why I taught myself how to learn and improve myself. I learned more by myself than I ever did in college. I have taught myself to write, edit videos, create websites, photograph, but also to plan, be productive, work hard, stay organized, meditate, and many more skills that have proven to be more valuable than the few things I learned in college.
That is not to say that without college I wouldn’t have been able to learn this much. That’s why I now appreciate the time I spend in college. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to learn everything I now know. So the first lesson, to recap is: to learn how to learn. So that you can start learning everything you want to know by yourself, and don’t need a teacher in front of a class to show you. You can do it yourself with all the tools we have available right now.
The second lesson I learned was failing. I think college is the only safe place to do this, and yet again we have created a place where we believe failing is bad. Failing in college is the safest place to fail we will ever have. Failing in college means you get a bad grade, but you can always redo the test on a later date and crank it up. Or redo an entire year. Outside of college, failure could mean losing a lot of money or having to deal with the harsh opinions of others. In college, we are sort of exempt from this.
In college, we can learn to fail, because there aren’t a lot of big consequences to it. This means we can learn how to fail, how to take it, and how to grow from it. I am forever grateful that my teachers promoted this. They would rather see me fail and show them what I learned from it than seeing me go for the safe route so that I could get an 8 on my final design. I most of the time ended up with a 6 out of 10 if I played it safe, and an 8 out of 10 if I openly failed and showed that I learned from it. That’s why I now ain’t afraid to fail anymore. I was stimulated to fail because college is such an amazing place to do so and to learn how to cope with failure.
College gives you a safe zone where you can learn to cope with failure, learn to grow from it, and get back up. This is something that in ‘real’ life is harder to learn because there are bigger consequences attached to failure. So I highly encourage you to fail, but also to then combine it with the first lesson, to learn of it yourself. These two go hand in hand. Just failing would be a waste of your time because you won’t get anymore. But failing and afterward learning from it will get you someplace others will never get to because they were too scared to fail. So fail, be bold, and get back up from it. Learn from the failure, that will serve you all your life when shit hits the van. If you now learn how to cope with setbacks and failures you will forever grow and improve. That’s the beauty of failure.
Three: Helping Others
I am a fast learner, and love to learn. That has given me a lot of advantages over others, but I never wanted to brag about it. There is no use in pointing out that you are better at something than someone else. That’s a waste of your skill. Instead, use that skill to help lift others. This is a lesson I learned early on in college. So let me tell you a little story.
In the first year of college, we had to code our own website. In high school, I already had training in HTML and CSS coding, which allowed me to code a website in much less time, and with much more precision. I had more expertise on the topic than those in my class. Which granted me a lot of time to help them. I could have used that time to leave class early, to enjoy my free time, and brag about it to others. I chose to not do that, and instead stay in class and help others code their website.
Now reading this kinda looks like I am bragging about this. I ain’t. There are a lot of people in my class that have helped me out as well. I am forever grateful for them. All I want to show here is that helping others is a great thing to learn in college. By helping others you will learn to master the topic even more. It’s something overlooked in college I feel. We are taught to learn from books and make sure we get high grades. Not to help others raise their grades as well, and with that learn more ourselves.
This is the beginner mindset. Which is to always help others, and learn from them. In college, we can easily reach out to fellow students and see if we can help them with the struggles they are going through. By helping them with those struggles we will learn from them as well. We will learn to not make those same mistakes, or learn how to do deal with that particular problem for ourselves. Helping others has improved my life significantly. It is why I now write daily, to help the readers of these articles to better their lives as well. If you have any questions or need any help with topics like mindfulness, spirituality, mental health or self-love be sure to reach out to me via Instagram @today.i.lived I want to help you. If you allow me to, of course.
Four: Learning What You Love To Do
The fourth thing I learned in college is what I love to do. It turns out that the thing I graduated for isn’t what I love to do. Which isn’t a shocker to me. I was 16 years old when I chose that college degree, so how was I supposed to know what I would love to do the rest of my life by then? I never reflected on myself, didn’t journal, meditate, spend time alone, let alone thought about what I would want to do for the rest of my life.
I just wanted to have fun with friends and chose a college degree that looked fun. Turns out, that was the right call to make. Not that it turned out to be the profession I would love to do the rest of my life, but because of this college degree, I learned what I did want to do. That is to write. For some reason, and I don’t know why anymore, I started writing at the start of my second year in college. It came out of nowhere and I decided to write each day 6 days a week, for 6 months straight. I didn’t miss a single day. That sparked my curiosity and excitement for writing. Which I now know has always been within me. I didn’t write a lot as a kid, but I do remember very vividly the times I would write. As well as remembering that all through college, and high school I loved to write assignments. I never hated writing pages full of text. I enjoyed doing it. It’s very clear to me that by then I already loved the process of writing, but it is only through high school that I figured this out.
The thing is, just start and chose something. Don’t make such a big deal out of it. You see we make such a big deal out of college, that if we chose this we have to do it the rest of our lives. I think that’s an illusion. We never do one thing for the rest of our lives. Life is about adventure and experimenting. So believing that the degree you are choosing to follow right now will be your job for the rest of your life is complete and utter nonsense.
I finished college last year, but I have decided to not make it my profession. That doesn’t mean I wasted 4 years of my life. Not at all actually, I have used those 4 years of my life to truly figure out what I want to do, and have found my calling in life. I will appreciate that till the end of my days. So, chose something. Get started, and pick a degree you think you like. Don’t fuzz about it so much, don’t doubt or worry. Just do what you think would be fun. Don’t think about how hard it will be, or how much money it will make you. Chose that which you think would be fun to do. Then do that. You’ll see that you probably end up doing something completely different, yet by choosing to follow what you like, you have started on the journey of following your heart. That journey will take you places you never dreamed of reaching.
Learn to do what you love, and follow that. Choosing something for the money, or not choosing something because it looks hard is the biggest waste of your time. Go do something you like. Without thinking of the money, and without worrying if you’ll ever be able to do it. If you love it you will be able to do it. If you don’t love it, you are just a few clicks away from stopping with your college degree and starting something else you like. Don’t take college so seriously. It’s just a piece of paper that shows you the skills you have learned throughout the years. Nothing more, nothing less.
Five: It’s Not About The Achievements
Lesson five is a big one for me. It’s not about achievements. I only realized this in the past couple of months. I never figured this out during college, so take this one to heart, please. Because it will massively help you throughout college and life. It’s not about the achievements you get. A few months ago I graduated from college, which I believed would change everything. How cliche this might sound, but it didn’t. It changed nothing. I was happy with it for about an hour and then a few hours afterward when I celebrated with friends and family, but that it’s. It didn’t completely change my life. Nor did any of the sub achievements change anything.
All these achievements we reach throughout college are mere steps upwards. They aren’t the goal, there is no end line. No end achievement. There is no win it all, or go home a loser in life. Everything serves a purpose, everything is part of the journey and college is the perfect place to recognize this. Because in college we go from one to the next test, we go from the first year to second, to third, to fourth, and then graduate. We are constantly looking at the next step, never aware of the beauty we are in right now. That’s what I realized after graduating. There has been so much beauty during my years in college that I didn’t make most of. I forgot about all the fun I had with friends in college whilst studying and working together. The silly dances we did as breaks, the music we listened to, the presentations we gave together, the lunch breaks going for a walk, and laughing with teachers. Those are the things that matter, they make me realize that college has been an amazing time in my life.
It was only because I focused on achieving goals that I lost out on all this beauty. It has also been the reason why I have not been enjoying the past couple of months as much as I could have done. But that’s the past, let’s look at it right now. Right now, stop putting so much pressure on yourself to reach those big achievements. Start to enjoy the little things. I know how cliche that sounds, so let me give you this. I didn’t truly understand this until I took the time to compare the two. Literally. I thought to myself what do I appreciate more? Having all those big achievements, or laughing so much that I had to cry whilst spending time with friends? I would want to have the latter. The one in which I was alive. The one that made me say, Today I Lived! I made the most of it!
Now isn’t that a great way to end this? College is an amazing time of your life, I had a few rough years in the end because I resisted it. I resisted the fun I could have had, and the lessons I could have learned. None the less I now see the value of it. Not of the actual diploma, you get afterward, but of the life lessons I learned there. Of the memories, I now carry within my heart, and the amazing people I met, as well as the bonds with friends I already knew that, grew stronger. The main point is to live. To live and enjoy college. To go through it with excitement. To learn from the hard things and enjoy the beautiful moments. So that you can say at the end of your day that Today You Lived! You made the most of it.
Thanks for reading, I hope these 5 lessons have shown you the beauty of college, and the lessons we can learn from it. If you want to celebrate and appreciate life with us follow @today.i.lived on Instagram or subscribe to the newsletter Rise With The Sun, where I each week share three things to appreciate in life. Join at www.todayilived.com/rise/ Enjoy your day and remember Today You Live! Make the most of it.