The lessons you learn in college don’t all come from the classroom.
Here are a few lessons that I learned over my 4 years and I’m sure they can help you no matter what stage of life you’re in.
1. Do your research first, ask the right questions later.
They say that there are no stupid questions. Although, they are right (don’t tell DJ Khaled), educated questions do exist. Questions that when posed, the listener can tell that some thought or research was put into it beforehand. In a classroom or team setting, these are the questions that make you stand out.
2. Giving in to peer pressure doesn’t help your peers, it hurts you.
A lot of my peers in college gave in to peer pressure early in their first year. Everyone else was doing “it”, whatever “it” may be, and seemed to be having fun so why not join, right? Wrong. Denying your values for the sake of popularity or conformity or any reason really is never a good idea. I saw my peers go through cycles of heartbreak, depression and disorders simply because they made decisions based on their desire to fit in. Their “friends” weren’t there to pick them back up while they were down and instead they were at rock bottom all alone.
Always hold tight to your convictions. There are a lot of hardships that you’ll have to go through in life, but some of them can be avoided if you protect yourself from outside pressures.
3. The Wait is always worth it.
The most rewarding lesson I learned is that trusting in God requires waiting, but The Wait is always worth it. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Before college, everything came easy for me and then all of a sudden, things got harder and the competition got tougher. Everyone around me had internships with Fortune 500 companies, vacation homes, and engagement rings. Meanwhile, I was just sitting in my room trying not to freak out about having none of the above. But guess what? Freaking and stressing out are just ways to waste your time and emotions. Instead, I took it to God. I learned that His timing might look drastically different then how you would’ve planned it but it’s ALWAYS better. When I learned to do that, I had a real sense of peace and I was able to share that peace with others. At the end of the day, I was the one thriving in a Fortune 100 company. But it did not come easy. I still put in work. I went through the process of applying to many companies and utilized my network daily because waiting on The Lord does not mean doing nothing (James 2:14-26). It was not until the day I was moving out of my dorm room with no summer plans that I got the acceptance call with the perfect offer, the perfect co-workers and the perfect pay. I got God’s best for me when I trusted Him fully.
4. It’s okay to take time for yourself.
Take a nap. Go off campus to eat. Take a walk in the park. Workout. Journal. Color. Breathe.
Self-care is extremely important to your development and happiness. College is stressful and the things that come along with taking classes, such as work-study, activism, extracurriculars, etc. sometimes cause more self-harm then good so make sure to take care of yourself so you can serve others with your best self.
5. Dedicate time to your passions, not resumé builders.
Doing the things that you’re passionate about will be the most fulfilling to you. You will also be able to convey these things more accurately, easily and persuasively to others when talking about it. Why? Because you’re passionate about your passions, duh!
In college, I decided to dedicate most of my time towards my campus ministry. I sacrificed so much to make sure that we were reaching our campus effectively and growing spiritually as individuals in the process as well. Campus ministry doesn’t seem like something that will score well with job recruiters, right? However, I still decided that it was what I wanted to focus on. Campus ministry is what kept me grounded while on campus, it’s what gave my purpose and life, and it’s where I met my closest friends. And lo and behold, my University publicly recognized me for my work in campus ministry, which then forced recruiters to bring it up in interviews as well. This is the power of going after what you love and not what you think others will love.
6. Planning doesn’t solve everything and that’s okay.
Being a planner is a good characteristic to have BUT adding spontaneity and room for mistakes in your life is necessary for growth and added adventure.
7. Do not be a closet activist.
“Stand up, stand tall, and stand out. And make sure that while you’re standing, you’re standing for a cause.” – Christa Nutor
Speak out about what you think is right. Act on it in whatever way you deem fit. But be prepared for both positive and negative feedback. And be humble enough to receive correction. This is something I’m still working on. Enough said.
8.Spend some time to figure out what you’re about. And then OWN IT.
I was kind of ashamed of my background growing up. I ignored my socioeconomic class. I put chemicals in my hair to get it straight like the other/white cheerleaders. The only things that gave away my Ghanaian heritage was my last name and the Kingsbite chocolate I’d bring to lunch occasionally. I grew a lot in college and then I became ashamed of that ashamed younger person I once was. That wasn’t okay either. That period of my life before college allowed me to be the person I am today so I had to learn to embrace that too and now it’s part of my story.
Embrace all of who you are, including where you’ve come from.
9. Don’t let your GPA define you.
If you get straight A’s, great. If you get some B’s and C’s, great. Those letters and the resulting numbers in your GPA do not define you. Work hard, and I do mean work hard, but do not let schoolwork consume you. There’s so much more to your college experience than your grades. Spend energy investing in relationships. Your GPA will one day by irrelevant, but relationships could last a lifetime and take you places you never imagined.
10. Take risks with a side of caution.
Indulge in risks, they can really pay off. But while engaging in “risky behavior,” still practice caution. Be aware of your surroundings and environment. If something doesn’t seem like a good idea, don’t pounce on it. Take a step back and count the costs before making your decision.
I was recently climbing up to the Argyle Falls in Tobago. I’m not an outdoorsy girl so this was very different for me and the climb ahead of me was rocky and steep, but I decided it was worth the hike. Nevertheless, as I was moving forward, I calculated which rocks were unsteady or slippery, I looked around for branches that could help me up and I sometimes had to use some unique butt-scooting techniques to get me where I needed to go next. I’m sure I looked stupid and inexperienced, which I was the latter, but I wasn’t the former because I got to see the Falls and I felt super accomplished about the risks that I took that allowed me to see the result of my actions. That’s what it means to take a calculated risk. Impulsive decisions can be good too, but the probability of those successes aren’t as high so practice caution while taking chances that you believe could elevate your perspective.