My family likes to joke that I am a career student because I pursued higher education learning between 2007-2017. I like to say that I could have become a doctor or lawyer with that much time dedicated to university and college. Instead, I struggled for seven years through a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History with a Minor in Classical Studies and excelled through a three-year diploma in Applied Museum Studies.
Leaving home and moving to Canada’s Capital to pursue a university degree was exciting, I was gaining my independence as a young adult and could not wait to contribute to society in a meaningful way. It was not easy in the beginning. I failed some classes, I took a step back and went to school part-time for two years, struggled with anxiety and depression, and eventually got my footing again and completed my degree successfully with a B+ average.
College was a breeze. I excelled, probably due to the fact that college teaches practical skills in a hands-on environment and that is my preferred method of learning. In addition, I had come out of university knowing what was expected of me to succeed in life, and I was able to emulate that in college.
I have been a post-graduate for a year now and want to share with you the lessons I learned during those long ten years – lessons they don’t teach you in the classroom…
13 Life Lessons I Learned in College
1. Get Enough Sleep
Find time to fit them in, even if you think you don’t have time.
2. Do not be afraid to ask for help
Adult life is hard, we all need support from time to time.
3. The world gets bigger
You will be exposed to new ideas, people and things that will shape the way you view your life and the world.
4. What your peak time is
Some people are early risers and others night owls. Discover what time works best for you to focus on your work.
5. Defeat procrastination
There are many reasons people procrastinate. One way to defeat the habit is to just start the project. Don’t worry about being a perfectionist, just get started. Often times once you start everything else will work out as your interest in the project grows.
6. Make friends
Post-secondary school is a great place to meet new people who will later become your work colleagues and networking opportunities.
7. How to write a paper in 24 hours
There are times when it has to be done. You will be advised that it is not possible, and you will prove your professors wrong every time.
8. How to operate on little sleep
Let’s face it, college is a lot of work. Balancing a job and social life on top of your school work is hard if you don’t have good time-management skills. You will learn how to survive on less than 7 hours of sleep.
9. How to deal with mental illness
College puts a lot of pressure on people to push themselves past their comfort level. Anxiety, panic attacks, and depression can sadly be a byproduct of this work culture and living away from home. Thankfully most campuses have doctors and psychologists who deal with students with these issues all the time and professors are very understanding.
10. Abandon perfectionist tendencies
Professors like to assign supplemental readings for their lectures. I found it impossible to keep up with classes, all the readings, research and write my papers. Skip the readings if you need to, it won’t be the end of the world.
11. How to live with roommates
Compromise, compromise, compromise. There will always be the clean one and the messy one and you will not agree on every political, social and cultural issue. Understanding and respect are important.
12. Freshmen 15
Convenience and prioritizing assignments over your health make it easy to gain weight. I get it, I have consistently gained 10 pounds a year since I started university in 2007. Take care of yourself! Make sure you’re eating your vegetables, eat carbs in moderation and use that free gym membership!
13. Appreciate coffee
There is a whole world that is coffee. Beans are exported from all over the world, there are different roasts and flavors, organic and fair trade. LATTES! Coffee will be your worst enemy (drink too much and you’ll be wired) and your best friend (just the right amount and your mind will be sharp and focused!). Plus all the combinations can be super tasty and fun to try. Coffee shops are great study locations as well.
These are the tips I wish I had known back in 2007. If you could go back and give yourself advice going into freshmen year what would it be? Share them in the comments!