College is a fantastic learning experience, and most people come away from their undergraduate years with a far more nuanced understanding of themselves and the world around them. Of course you’ll learn in your courses, but there are a few other crucial lessons that you’ll (hopefully) learn before graduation day.
How to pull an all-nighter. There’s a delicate balance between just enough caffeine to work and too much caffeine to work. And every college student will eventually learn that pulling an all-nighter to study for a test tends to do more harm than good.
How to prioritize. When you have four papers and a midterm in the same week, you’re forced to evaluate your priorities. You’ll learn to schedule your time in a way that maximizes your GPA without sacrificing your sanity.
How to say yes to things. There’s no better time to dive into something you’ve always wanted to try, whether it’s downhill skiing or a class outside your major. College teaches you to become comfortable with new experiences and new environments.
How to say no to things. During your first semester at college, you’ll be able to sign up for as many clubs and organizations as you want. But as the year goes on, you might realize that you don’t actually have the time to be involved in model UN, student government and the dance club. College helps you learn what’s most important to you and how to manage your time.
How to coexist with people different from you. College will expose you to people with different political views, cultural norms, personalities, and standards of hygiene. Coming to understand other people’s point of view is an extremely valuable skill, as is figuring out how to get your roommate to clean your room.
How to fail (and how to learn from your mistakes). In addition to being a great place to try new things, college is a great place to fail spectacularly at new things. The trick is to learn from your (hopefully minor) failures, whether it means actually studying for the next final or not locking yourself out of your dorm after a shower.
How to manage your energy. Part of using your time and energy efficiently is learning when you’re functioning at your best. You might decide that evening classes are the worst thing that ever happened to the world, or that you would rather study at 5 am than 5 pm. Each person is different, and college gives you the flexibility to play around with your schedule and figure out what works for you.
How to manage your stuff. You’ll likely end up moving multiple times in college. Each time you move, you’ll have the chance to take an inventory of everything you own. Do you really need that many t-shirts? Is that $15 ottoman worth the space in the storage unit you’ve rented for the summer?
How to do laundry. You don’t want to be the person who brings home a suitcase of laundry for Thanksgiving break. You’ll probably have to google the little symbols on your tags, and you might end up with a grey pillowcase or two, but you’ll figure it out.
How to carve out your niche. College is a time of huge personal growth. If you dive into the experience, you’ll find new hobbies, new friends, and new skills. As long as you pay attention, college will teach you a great deal about who you are and who you want to be.