The real reason college will make you successful

You spent 4 years, 130-or-so credits, and about 6 boxes of tissues per finals week for your degree.  You took a slew of classes to become specialized in a topic you think you can make a living on.  But, even if you forgot a lot of what you learned in college, just having been really affords you something you’ve probably never thought about before.  Sometimes, it isn’t the degree that’ll make you a millionaire.

In my opinion, you don’t go to college to learn a skill–that’s something you can get from the internet, a how-to book, or a local trade school.  What college really does is teach you how to think.  It teaches you discipline, time management, and how to learn.

Think about it: you’re a cute, little freshman in college.  You have your first exam, and you only study the night before for it.  You fail.

By your junior year, you’re smarter about studying.  You know you need at least, say, 2 hours per day for at least a week in advance to prepare.  That’s not something your classes alone taught you–I mean, sure, they’re harder than high school, so maybe they made you realize it, but what you’ve done from freshman to junior year is discipline yourself.  You know how much time it’ll take you to remember the stuff you’ll be tested on, and you’re spacing it out well enough so you can give each section proper care.  That’s an experience thing–it isn’t something you can just learn from a book.  In many cases, I think the most important part about college is failing: realizing what doesn’t work, so you can figure out what does work.  The experience of failing, say, your freshman Calc test is really important to your development, because you’re going to want to prevent that in the future.  Otherwise, you might be in a little warmer of water than what’s comfortable.

Speaking of which, while you’re learning how much time it’ll take you to learn the material for your class, you’re going to learn which style you learn best from.  I’ll give you an example: in my freshman Microeconomics class, I sat in a lecture hall twice a week with about 700 other people.  I sat in the very front row, took notes, and tried to be as engaged as possible, but I didn’t do nearly as well as I did in a 15 person Electricity + Magnetism class I took the same year.  In my opinion, the physics was more conceptually challenging; it wasn’t that Kirschhoff’s Law just clicked upon walking in the room.  My point is that I learn best when I have a teacher right there, and if needed, the teacher has the time to explain a problem to me in three different ways (whether they get irritated with said request usually varies).

Knowing what your learning style is is something you fortify when you’re in college, because you have to figure out the quickest and most effective way to master a concept (even if that quickest way is spending hours in office hours).  If you didn’t have those time constraints, you wouldn’t be forcing that self-development and realization; see what I mean?

Overall, if you remember most of what you took in freshman Gen Chem 1, I salute you!  But, if it has escaped you, don’t worry; because of the skills you’ve built by being in college, you can relearn it, no problem.



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