What You Get out of College (Besides a Degree)

While in college you will learn just as much outside of the classroom as you do inside of one. There’s no doubt that the material learned from the courses and tests are valuable, but equally important are the life lessons imparted by the college experience as a whole.

You earn much more than just a degree by the end of your college career. So, what do you get out of college? Here are just some of the lessons you will learn and hone while studying at college.

Networking

What do you get out of college?

Flickr user Albany Law School

You’re going to meet a lot of people while in college. A lot. It doesn’t matter the size of the school you attend, you will interact with fellow classmates, professors, faculty, club members, teammates, coworkers, bosses, random strangers on the bus, etc.

Everyone you meet is a resource–they might know someone who is looking to hire someone with your qualifications. Professors or bosses might be willing to write letters of recommendation or act as references for your future job prospects.

Networking is extraordinarily important in the business world, and you’ll be doing it a lot in college. You may not even be aware of it. Ever ask a friend for notes on a lecture you missed? That’s networking. Did a friend introduce you to someone new because they thought you had a lot in common? Networking. It’s a skill that will take you far in life and be used throughout.

Time Management

College is a busy, busy time. Between class, studying, extracurriculars, relaxation, and socializing, it might seem that there are just not enough hours in the day. Saying that time management is a handy skill would be a big understatement. The ability to properly map out your time and navigate a busy schedule is imperative.

When should you study for your upcoming midterms? When should you hunker down and focus on a research paper? When should you take a breather or a short nap to refresh? How much time do you have to dash across campus to get to your next class? Before too long that will translate into: When do you have time to memorize that business presentation you have to give? When can you sift through emails or squeeze in a coffee run before the company-wide meeting? It is a lifelong skill.

Communication

We’ve already said you’ll meet and interact with a ton of different kinds of people while in college, these interactions will also merit different kinds of communication. You might text your friends with chat-speak or emojis, but you probably wouldn’t send an email to your professor or boss with u’s instead of you’s. (At least, we hope you don’t).

College is a great time to learn how to tailor your communication language to different audiences. This is prime time learning for how to craft professional and appropriate emails, how to speak with coworkers, superiors, and peers. Good communication is important in every facet of life, not just school or business.

Budgeting

College is expensive, and even with scholarships, grants, and loans to take off some of the strain, you’re probably not left with an abundance of cash flow. Budgeting really starts in college, if not before. You probably won’t be able to eat out every night, or go to every single concert, or buy every new hyped-up game–you’ll have to pick and choose.

After college, you might be earning a steadier paycheck, but you’ll still have to balance out bills, credit card purchases, groceries, transportation fees, loans, and other financial obligations. Budgeting, like many other skills on this list, will be integral to your life.

Independence / Responsibility

Flickr user Duke TIP

Flickr user Duke TIP

College is oftentimes the first time you’re entirely responsible for yourself. No parents to nag about you doing your homework–which is as much of a blessing as a curse. Now you get to create your own schedule, make your own decisions. Independence is pretty sweet, but it does require a lot of responsibility.

You’re in charge of your diet. You’re in charge of your sleep schedule. You’re in charge of your studying and working. Are you making good choices? It can be tempting to just eat pizza or procrastinate studying for your midterm for another round of Netflix, but you’re only hurting yourself in the long run if you don’t take responsibility for your college education.

Research

No matter your major–Political Science, English, Electrical Engineering–you will end up doing plenty of research for papers and projects. Learning how to search for proper sources and draw connections from different findings or existing materials will be just as useful in college as it is in life.

Whether in your professional work life or your personal one, research is pretty important. Your time spent ferreting out legitimate sources and learning all that you can about a focused topic will not go wasted after graduation.

Life Experiences

Flickr user Penn State

Flickr user Penn State

While pretty much all of these skills can be categorized as ‘life experiences’ what we mean by this section is all of the non-classroom things you participate in. Sports, student organizations, campus activities, volunteer work, internships, and the like.

The theme here is engagement. In college, you’ll have opportunities to really delve into what matters to you–hobbies, passions, or causes you believe in. Engaging with movements or activities around you will enrich life and give you something to discuss/focus on other than work.

Prioritizing / Multitasking

This skill goes hand in hand with time management. With such a busy schedule, you’re going to have to decide which task is more important, and then which is most important. Should you study for your midterm in two weeks, or write and research for the paper due in two days?

You won’t have just one class, of course, but multiple. You’ll juggle several different midterms at once or a handful of projects due around the same time. Time management, prioritizing, and multitasking will keep you afloat. A combination of all three will help you out in the business world, too. Got multiple deadlines? Conflicting meeting times? Time to prioritize!

Dedication

College can be hard. Life can be hard. You can either shirk from the difficulties and procrastinate or tackle the challenges head-on and take control. This takes persistence. There might be a 10-page paper due in a class you don’t particularly like on a subject that bores you, but you’re still going to have to do it. Push up your sleeves, the hard work will help you in the long run. Like the saying goes “Effort won’t betray you.”

Good Friends

Flickr user ibmphoto24

Flickr user ibmphoto24

College can be an interesting time when it comes to friends. During your four (or five, or six) year journey, you’ll meet classmates who transform into your closest, lifelong friends. You’ll become buddies with people who turn out to be bad influences or just bad friends. You’ll lose touch with some of your old, high school friends, and forge stronger bonds through distance with some of them.

Finding true friends in college is a lifelong skill that will help you form a support system of amazing people. You’ll find people who genuinely care for the real you and who will be at your side when things get rough–and you’ll be there for them too.

There are many other life lessons to be learned in college. What did college teach you? Tell us in the comments below!

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