The Most Important Things We Learned In College

In college, you learn many things. A smattering of organic chemistry principles and formulas. An assortment of historic dates, and what exactly happened to lead to the events that went down on them. Not to mention the plots to, oh, 10 or so books per semester of an English class. Those things are awesome. But I think most of us agree that the bigger things you learn in college won’t ever be found on a midterm. After the jump, The Frisky staff shares the most important things we learned from our college experiences.

“I learned that stressing out just isn’t productive. I started out getting panicked on nights when I had a paper due and tons of reading to boot. But during my freshman year, I had one impossible night where I had a paper, a midterm to study for, and an issue of the college newspaper to close. (I was the art director, so needed to get the thing to the printer.) I was FREAKING. I took a walk and had a realization—that even if I stayed up all night, I couldn’t do it all. So I decided to focus, and finish my newspaper duties first. Then gets to studying. And I wrote my professor to see if I could get a day’s extension on the paper—he said that was fine. That night taught me that there is almost always a solution. That when you have a ton to do, the best thing you can do is keep the adrenaline at bay, prioritize things, and start knocking them out. It’s a lesson I took with me through writing a book and working here at The Frisky, where we write a ton of posts in a day in addition to other duties. I’m not trying to front like I NEVER stress anymore, but it’s truly a rarity.” —Kate

“I don’t know if college itself taught me this, but I learned it over the four years I was in school: BE BOLD AND DON’T GIVE A F**K. I was very shy for most of my life but college forced me — slowly, I’ll admit — to get some balls and not care so much about what other people think. It’s something I learned as I had to make all new friends, started actually trying to have some success with boys, did internships where I worked with people I admired and was intimidated by, moved to NY all by myself for those internships, learned the big city without someone holding my hand, and dealt with very difficult family stuff. I learned to speak up about the way I felt in all facets of my life instead of letting other people speak for me.” —Amelia

“The biggest thing I learned in college is that college doesn’t matter. I mean, it matters, it matters! But it certainly doesn’t matter the way we’re all made to believe it does. What matters more than what you major in and whether you join a sorority or whatever, is that you do something with those four years that brings you to a better point than you were when you started out. College is, I think, really more than anything a four year period of transition, and it’s up to you to make the most of that and not squander it by wasting too much time worrying about your past OR your future. If you can get through all the change you’re going to experience in those four years–and really allow yourself to feel that change, you’ll be all the better for it.” —Julie

“The biggest thing I learned in college was to trust my own instincts. In my acting training, I learned to ‘break down all my emotional barriers, live in the present moment, and be in touch with my impulses.’ This was very freeing in its own way, but dangerous when it came to protecting myself from bad people or making decisions from a rational place. I came across a lot of good people (teachers, dudes, friends) but also a lot of bad ones. The work was distinguishing the two and balancing openness and rationality. In the end, I learned that the one thing I could always rely on were my instincts.” —Ami

“I learned that hard work will be rewarded for having been hard work, but that some people will always be able to coast along on their money and connections. I worked really hard to get into the school I went to: I was admitted early decision and I graduated high school in only three years. I was very proud of myself, and still am, for my hard work.  However, all throughout college and the internships I had in college, I met children of immense privilege — celebrities or wealthy people, lots of connections — who seemingly had things handed to them and had no awareness to how lucky that was. It was a learning experience for me to see how I had more character than the rich kids who paid for their cocaine with their parents’ money. I strongly believe that if I want something and I work really hard for it, I can make it happen. Yet it still took me a long time to not be super-bitter about nepotism/privilege and it’s still something I struggle with to this day.” —Jessica