College is said to be “the most fun four years of your life”. Even though that may be true, it also is a time where you learn about yourself and the world around you. Not so long ago, I graduated from Virginia Tech. Since then, I have been reflecting on my college experience. What did I learn? What did I get out of it? How have I grown? Transitioning into the “real world”, these questions have been circling my mind. This article is intended to show five college skills I have learned over my four year journey, and why they are important in life.
College Skill #1 – Time Management:
Nowadays we hear ourselves always saying “I’ve been so busy”. Realistically “busy” means we still have time to go on social media 10 times a day, and spend 2 hours a night watching reality TV. Why? Because we have built that time into our schedules. We may think we are putting all this time aside to work on our business or side-hustle, but we are constantly taking social media breaks while doing it.
A lot of us are in this continuous cycle of what I call “phone instincts”. When we’re bored, we open up our phones and instinctively swipe to the left. We click on Snapchat or Instagram, or whatever app we check often. We get tired of it and close our phone. A couple minutes later, we do the same thing. Nothing has changed! Then a few minutes after that, we get a notification, “gotta check that” we say to ourselves. Do you find yourself doing this?
In general, a lot of us get into this mental state of being “busy”, yet we do not realize how much time we actually waste during the day. If you don’t believe me, pull up the “Screen Time” feature on your phone, it tells you exactly how much time you spend on your phone per day.
How do I stop wasting time on unimportant things?
- Work. Stay Productive. Work More. You will have time to take a break when you’re on a vacation.
- Set “App Limits” for social media unimportant websites.
- Make mental notes to yourself whenever you catch yourself opening your phone and clicking on Snapchat or Instagram. Affiliate this behavior with procrastination and laziness.
- Find a passion and write down a long-term goal that you can work towards. Make it your priority to accomplish that goal.
- Do not burn yourself out staring at a blank screen.
What are some things I can do in my free time?
- Create both a ‘To Do’ list and also a ‘Do Not Do’ list. Both are imperative to your daily routine and mindset.
- Read! Constantly educating yourself is the key to prosperity and knowledge.
- Journal or blog. Writing is a great way to gather your thoughts and/or teach others.
- Promote your brand. This can can be done on social media or in person.
- Workout, catch up with a friend, work on your side business, etc. There is a ton you can do instead of spending hours on Twitter.
Final takeaway: Wasting time watching the Kardashians, playing Call of Duty, going on Instagram every 20 minutes, it’s all holding you back! We all have goals, but a lot of us do not want to put in the work to get there. There is a lot of wasted time in our day that we could use to pursue our dreams or socialize with others. DO NOT let other people live your dream for you! Go out and make it happen. If that means giving up your nightly TV time, so be it.
College Skill #2 – Taking Risks:
During my undergraduate experience, I realized that some of the greatest things in life come from taking risks. If you live the same lifestyle day after day, how will you be different? The answer is, you won’t be.
This is one thing that I learned later in my college experience, but honestly one of the most important. After reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, my perspective on life changed. For five dollars, I have taken the lessons I learned from this book and applied it to my life. The author, Robert Kiyosaki provides some of the most eye-opening life lessons that will make you realize the importance of taking risks. If you are not fond of risk, I highly recommend reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
One of my favorite poems ever is by Robert Frost who hints at taking risks. He explains that taking the road less traveled has made all of the difference in his life. If he didn’t take the road less traveled, he probably would have ended up at the same destination as all of those before him. Moral of the story, even if you are unsure of something, trusting your instincts and following the less traveled path could be the difference between average and being the best.
How can I take a risk?
- A concrete example of taking a risk is investing. This could be in stocks, real estate, startup companies, etc. You are risking your income in the hopes that your money will grow. You have no control over it, but the money you make is all passive income (you don’t have to work for anyone).
- Another example of taking a risk is starting your own business. This is how the rich become richer! They take a calculated risk of starting their own company and then they watch their money grow. They wake up to hundreds or thousands of more dollars than they had the night before. This is all done by applying what they learned and realizing the potential of their risk.
- Going out of your way to make a new friend or network connection is also considered a risk that benefits you.
What are some tips for taking risks?
- Keep your risks under control.
- If you have a good idea, pursue it.
- If you have a good investing hunch, take it.
- Do not overthink, people are going to judge you either way.
- Realize the difference between a calculated risk and stupid risk. If you can do that, you are setting yourself up for success!
Final Takeaway: In no way am I saying to go out and bet all of your money on a sporting event. That is what we call stupid risk. What I am saying is to put yourself out there and do not let your insecurities hold you back. Taking risks is an integral part of life, and essential for long-term success.
College Skill #3 – Active Listening:
Coming from a small bubble of friends in high school, to attending a massive university like Virginia Tech, I recognized what active listening is on my first day of college. There are 330 million people in the U.S and 7.8 billion in the world. Each person has a different mindset and contrasting opinions to yours. Simply put, not everybody is going to agree with you, and may disagree completely. With improved active listening skills, life in general will be ten times easier for you to get along with people.
What is active listening?
- Active listening is hearing and understanding someone else’s point of view. You do not necessarily have to agree with their viewpoint, however it is the act of comprehending why someone believes something.
- Indeed.com points out “One of the most critical skills in effective communication is active listening.”
- It is considered a verbal skill, instead of non-verbal. It is also linked to intuition.
Why is active listening important?
- Leads to open-mindedness.
- Improves relationships with friends, family, and coworkers.
- Establishes greater trust between you and the person you are communicating with.
- Shows respect towards the person talking.
- Makes you more likely to hold people to their word.
- Decreases repetitive conversations and recycled questions.
How can I improve my active listening skills?
- Ask questions. Look at the responses you get as a chance to learn something new and apply it to the conversation.
- Do not interrupt someone to talk about yourself. It is obvious when someone only wants to talk about THEM in a conversation. It is fine to relate your own experiences and perspective, but do not make everything about you.
- Realize that people are raised with different values. They may approach a conversation differently, or talk in a way you find strange. You do not need to be friends with everybody, but you can make an effort to get along.
Final Takeaway: Use active listening as a tool to understand other people. Stop making assumptions and start asking questions. This skill will better your relationships and make it easier to have genuine conversations with people.
College Skill #4 – Failure:
Before going to college, I always wanted to succeed. Whenever I failed at something, I would give up and tell myself I was not good enough. I did not comprehend that failure is a part of the road to success.
It look four years of constant setbacks and obstacles to get where I am today. The scary part is, this is just the beginning! I have failed so many times in my life without realizing how important the concept is. Failure is a part of life that you have to live with everyday.
Who is a good representation of ‘failure to success’?
- A person who represents the importance of failure is Michael Jordan. Jordan once said “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
- In addition, Michael Jordan did not make his varsity basketball team in his sophomore year of high school. Imagine getting cut from a high school basketball team and then eventually turning into the greatest basketball player of all time.
Jordan could’ve let failure define him, but he didn’t. He had a vision and realized he would encounter shortcomings in his life. He dealt with his challenges properly, which is why he has had so much success in life.
How do you overcome failure?
- Learn from your mistakes.
- Do not let failure cripple your motivation or self-esteem.
- Dissect what you are doing wrong, establish what you can do to change.
- Stop saying “I can’t” and start saying “I will!”
- Ask yourself, “What can I do to improve?”, “Do I need to put in more effort?”, “What is my end goal?”.
- Answering these questions is the first step towards learning from failure. It may not be a smooth road, but if Michael Jordan can evolve into the best basketball player of all time after getting cut from a high school team, why can’t you achieve your goals?
Final Takeaway: To say the least, life is not easy. There is always going to be someone smarter or more talented than you. There are going to be hardships and you will struggle along the way. At times you’ll want to give up, or simply lose all motivation. However, those who prosper put in the hard work and never give up on their dreams. Once you look failure into the eyes and say “I’m not scared of you” is the moment you will not let it hold you back.
College Skill #5 – Be Open To Change:
This is one that I have personally struggled with throughout the years. I am constantly on a schedule and want things to go as planned. Whenever my plans get messed up, I get flustered and anxious.
In my eyes, change is synonymous with spontaneity. If you are already a spontaneous person, change most likely comes easy to you.
If you enjoy an unchanged routine, then spontaneity is often discouraging.
College taught me that no matter how much you plan, there is always something that could go wrong. As Murphy’s Law goes, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”.
If you are able to adjust to the unexpected, your life will be 10 times better. You will think more positively and you won’t overreact to things out of your control. You will stay level headed and be confident that everything will work out.
What are some good examples of being open to change?
- A coworker/classmate is sick, now you must give a full presentation by yourself. Instead of getting overwhelmed, you gather your thoughts and deliver the best speech possible.
- A friend cancels on you. Instead of getting upset, you ask someone else to hangout, or fill the time with something productive.
- You recognize that your after-work routine is leading to an unfulfilled life. Instead of watching two hours of Netflix and feeling lackadaisical – you spend an hour reading and an hour exercising. If your brain and body both feel good, so will you!
What are the results from being open to change?
- Being open to change makes life more enjoyable and less stressful.
- You will worry less about the things out of your control and you will think more positively about your circumstances.
- A spontaneous lifestyle becomes more natural.
- You are more willing to try new things, and will live life to the fullest!
Final Takeaway: One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Robin Sharma: “All change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and so beautiful at the end.” Basically, change isn’t easy. It is going to be challenging to overcome something you are not expecting. However, on the other side awaits satisfaction and glory. Stay spontaneous and strive to not stress over things that are out of your control!
I appreciate you taking the time to read this article. Comment below if this helped you in anyway, or you want to share your own experiences. I would love to hear your college skills! Any feedback is helpful and cherished,