Growing up, we are brought up with the idea that college is meant to prepare us for our future. It is meant for us to find a career that will help us find success and financial stability. The formula is pretty simple: You choose a major, take the classes, graduate, and find a job in that career. What they don’t tell you is that sometimes college doesn’t prepare you for the real world. At least not in the conventional way! Most people think that college is only meant to give you jobs and send you on your merry way, but there are also countless experiences and lessons that you can learn from. So while college didn’t get me a job at a multi-million dollar company (it still might one day), it did prepare me for the real world in other ways. Here are some of the unconventional ways college didn’t prepare me for the real world.
College can be hectic! For many people, this is the first time away from home. You mom isn’t around to wake you up for class or remember to schedule your doctor’s appointment. It is up to you to run your life! College helped me learn how to organize my day, so that I could fit in all of my activities for the day. I had to learn how to schedule my classes, my workouts, my social life, and my appointments all by myself. College was the first time I had to write all of my activities down in an agenda, so that I could keep track of everything. Even today, I have keep a bullet journal listing all of my errands for the day. It was a skill I gained in college and one that has helped me stay organized until now! I highly recommend getting one.
2. Time Management
Being in college means that you have more independence. Gone are the days of bell schedules and class assignments. Due dates will still loom over you, but there is no teacher or professor scolding you to stay on task. Because of this, I had to learn how to manage my time. Not only was I going to class, but I also had to juggle a job and make sure I still had time to sleep and hangout with family and friends. My years in college taught me discipline. I had to structure my time with imaginary time slots so that I could visualize the way my day was going to pan out. It sounds crazy, but it works. I had to form a routine. I imagine my schedule was something like being in the army. I still structure my time this way, but I allow for more flexibility. This is another one of the ways college didn’t prepare me.
Like I mentioned before, for many people starting college means leaving home. It means leaving structure behind. You are brought into an environment where you are given a certain amount of power over what you do and how you do it. If you want to get up at noon, do it. If you want to have ice cream for breakfast, go ahead. For me, having freedom in college taught me that independence ain’t easy. While you could make the above choices, you will find that most of the time that will lead to a pajama clad jog to a class you are late for or a stomach ache. If anything, college taught me how to manage my independence. I had to go shopping for groceries and manage my spending. I had to do my own laundry and put gas in my car. I learned that going to bed early and eating my vegetables is sometimes the better choice. Basically, college teaches you how to adult! This is another one of the ways college didn’t prepare me.
4. Be On Time
I’ve never been one to be late for anything, but college really helped enforce that idea in me. Being late to anything is not a good idea, especially in college. Arriving to a lecture late, will probably lead to some stares and an aggravated professor. Making it to sporting events 30 minutes late, almost always be sitting in the back with everyone blocking your view. Turning in that application a day late will almost guarantee that someone else get’s the job. Being on time and being present are important tools for life and college showed me the importance of that. This is another one of the ways college didn’t prepare me.
5. Try New Things and Make Mistakes
College felt like a trial run for adult life. It was my first time really being an adult and navigating the world on my own. And as any novice will tell you, you are bound to make mistakes. It’s okay though because there is something that can be learned from any blunder. Try new things. Enter that contest. Join that club. My freshman year in college, I entered a speech contest because it seemed like something new and exciting. I didn’t think I could win, but I wanted to try something out of my comfort zone. Guess what? I won! Don’t be afraid to fail, because out here in the real world, you will be faced with much more failure than successes. This is your time to prepare for it!