The 10 Most Important Things I Learned in College, Part I

Kyle Florence

Few will deny that college is a time of personal growth and self- discovery. During this brief window of opportunity, our constant exposure to new people, beliefs, and viewpoints allows us to get a better idea of not only who we are, but also who we want to be. Not surprisingly, the road to personal enlightenment is fraught with countless lessons along the way, all of which are necessary, but some of which can really suck.

For that reason, I have compiled my personal list of The Ten Most Important Things I Learned In College, in hopes that all the knowledge I’ve gained in the past five years can in some way help you navigate these turbulent, unpredictable waters that everyone keeps referring to as “the best years of your life.”

1.) You Get What You Work For: As a freshman, I, like many others, was under the impression that getting violently intoxicated in strangers’ basements and skipping all my morning and Friday classes was the road to unadulterated success. True enough, this route called for rough mornings, but I figured if Van Wilder could do it, certainly I could too. Well, I had a very rude awakening at the beginning of my junior year when I sat down to draft my resume’ and realized I was hardly qualified to wipe the dog crap off of the bottom of my own shoe. Though I have feverishly managed to bolster my personal qualifications since then, I still make a point to never forget what this experience taught me–nothing worthwhile in life “just happens.” Successful people are successful because they work to be so; and this means pulling all nighters to cram for exams, attending class even when you don’t want to, and actually staying conscious once you get to said class. I’m not saying that you can’t have any fun–just remember that attending college is a privilege, and these four years are meant as a transition into adult life, where two-story beer bongs in the early afternoon are frowned upon.

2.) Don’t Judge Yourself Based off Your Peers: Admittedly, this is easier said than done, but if you don’t want to spend every waking moment of your day pulling out your hair, you simply cannot live in the shadows of others. There are always going to be people who are smarter, better looking, more well- liked, and in general, “better” than you. As a matter of fact, with time you will likely realize that there are droves of individuals around you who fit this description. If you want to be happy, you’ll need to learn to accept yourself for who you are, shortcomings included. No matter how awful things get, we always have the choice to be happy; it’s one of the joys of being human. That, and roasted red-pepper hummus; that [expletive] is golden.

3.) Change Is Inevitable: To many, this is often one of the most difficult aspects of life to stomach. Though we would all like to imagine that our “glory days” will last forever, I can assure you they will not, and honestly you probably won’t even realize they were your “glory days” until long after they’ve passed (::cough:: COLLEGE ::cough::). Family members die, people who were once your best friends will become mere acquaintances, and your beliefs, goals, and viewpoints will probably change dozens, if not hundreds of times. People will hurt you, you will hurt other people, and eventually, they’ll stop making that body spray you love and you’ll need to switch brands. It is an unavoidable cycle, and it is part of growing-up that everyone must go through. That being said, do not fear change, but instead embrace it; don’t cling to the good things, and don’t despair for the bad things. You will never know what you are passionate about if you are not willing to step out of your comfort zone, and though this can sometimes be scary, more often than not the risk is worth the reward. Either way, I can promise you one thing–upon graduating, you will be a completely different person than you were at the beginning of your college career.

4.) Help Others, Even Strangers: I know what you’re thinking– ’Why should I stick my neck out for strangers who probably wouldn’t do the same as me’ Well, to some extent this is solid reasoning, but this is also the mindset that has sparked wars, incited genocide, and allowed for Scar to kill Mufasa and rule the Pridelands. Honestly, helping others does as much for you as an individual as it does for the people you are helping; when we lend a hand to others, other’s will be more inclined to help out when you’re in need, and I promise at some point you will be. In a society fraught with economic crises, a crippled job market, and Miley Cyrus, many labor under the impression that if they keep to themselves and keep their heads down, they can effectively avoid conflict. And maybe, for a little while, they will. You cannot however, simply overlook the fact that we are all human, and for the most part, we all want the same things out of life, regardless of background or upbringing. So do whatever you can each day: hold the door open for the pretty girl walking behind you, pay for a strangers coffee, or walk your friend home if they’ve spent a little too much time at Buffy’s. In the words of Anne Frank, “No one has ever become poor by giving.”

5.) Don’t Take Part In Strenuous Activity Within 45 Minutes Of Eating At Debot: I feel like I really don’t need to go into detail with this one, and quite frankly, I really would prefer not to. Just take my word for it; bad things will happen.? 

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