With less than half of American college graduates working in their field of study it may seem fair to ask, “What’s even the point?” or maybe, “Is it really worth it?” If you’re considering pursuing a degree, or if you are feeling some regrets about the degree you earned, I would urge you to consider all of the hidden lessons learned and skills acquired along the way.
We have all heard that college graduates earn X% more, employers require a degree for certain jobs, etc, but it is the qualities you gain without even realizing it that are the most valuable when earning your degree. Even if a potential employee’s degree isn’t directly related to the job, employers know that the candidate learned a whole lot more on their path to graduating. What follows are some of the behind the scenes things you learn at college that make you a much more well-rounded member of society and a more qualified candidate for the workplace.
How to Commit to a Long-Term Goal
This is what in my mind is the most important part of earning a degree. It proves to yourself and future employers that you can set a long term goal and follow through with it. It shows that you CHOSE to continue learning and improving yourself beyond what society requires. You signed up for multiple years of constant challenge and came out on top. That is worth something, so be proud of it.
Learning New Ways to Learn
The way that we learn things through our lives is constantly evolving. A massive difference happens between high school and college where instruction changes a great deal. Depending on your field of study, there is likely a much larger emphasis placed on individual research and learning through your own exploration. Some courses also teach through discussion to help create depth of understanding. There are so many differences depending on your field and school, but one thing is for sure, you are constantly learning to learn in new ways and challenge yourself.
Expanding Your Worldview
Maybe you never really spent time outside of your hometown before college. Maybe you grew up in an area that wasn’t particularly diverse. A great part about college is that you will interact with people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. It will open your eyes to many cultures, struggles, and maybe even help you reflect on your own. Your time spent at university will have undoubtedly changed the way you see the world, and in my opinion this gained perspective changes you for the better.
How to Work With Others
Like it or not, there are group assignments, lab partners, collaborative talks with counselors and professors, and countless other interactions with other people through the college experience. For many people these interactions can be uncomfortable and outside of their comfort zone. Getting out of their comfort zone and being able to constructively work with others is an important skill that translates directly to the professional world. Group projects can be especially frustrating when other people aren’t pulling their weight, but unfortunately this will also directly translate to the professional world… Kyle.
How to Learn Things on Your Own
This was touched on briefly already, but this is particularly true for those who take online courses. There isn’t always someone there to hold your hand. You might be given a task or assignment that is beyond your current knowledge. A worker who doesn’t always need to be walked through each task is a valuable one, and this is incredibly important if you are your own boss.
How to Research
Being able to gather information efficiently is a valuable skill that many employers desire in a candidate.
Learn About Your Capabilities and Limitations.
This one is huge. You are capable of far more than you realize. You also do have some limitations and weaknesses. College is a place where we learn about ourselves and find the things we excel at. People excel or struggle at writing, communicating, problem solving, debating, or whatever skill, but it is the ones who learn what they are great at that find suitable and enjoyable jobs after college.
How to Communicate Effectively
Writing and communicating in a professional and succinct manner is something that will stick with you forever. If you ever feel like you take this one for granted, spend some time around a group of high schoolers.
Your fellow college students will be your future professional peers. Your professors have the potential to be valuable references and resources in the future. Nurturing relationships in college can pay off tremendously.
How to Manage Your Time
There is a lot on your plate in college, especially if you are working your way through it. Managing your time is a skill that is really learned for the first time in college where you are balancing a lot of responsibility with the rest that life has to offer. This is something that translates to any career.
How to Perform Under Pressure
Deadlines, term papers, timed and proctored exams.. College can be a pressure packed few years. Learning how to persevere through the challenges is something that makes you a stronger person mentally.
How to Overcome Obstacles
There are bumps along the road for everyone. It is pretty tough to get to the end of the road unscathed, but it is overcoming the obstacles along the way that builds character.
How to Manage/Overcome Stress
College is filled with stress, and some of us are better at handling it than others. Some learn ways to avoid stress successfully. Others learn how to overcome and push through their stress. It is certainly best to limit stressful situations, but graduating is proof that you learned to manage or overcome those situations.
How to Learn From Those With More Experience
Professors are obviously leaned on heavily, but many of your peers and classmates offer insight and knowledge as well. Discussions, group projects, and peer reviews are all ways in which classmates interact with one another. Learning from what they have to offer translates very well to the professional world where sharing knowledge to grow is paramount.
How to Deal With Difficult Professors/Bosses
Let’s face it, not every professor is a good one, and some are rather unsavory. Finding out what works and doesn’t work with difficult people is something that is learned through experience. You’re gonna hate some professors, you’re gonna hate some bosses at work, but dealing with them is a necessary part of growing up and becoming a well-rounded adult.
Learning to Trim the Fat
Some things are more important than others. We prioritize assignments, classes, lectures, studying, etc. We learn where we need to really buckle down and focus, and we also learn where we can relax and maybe half-ass it a bit. We have to give ourselves room to breathe, and this skill of deciphering how to prioritize everything we have going on probably starts to take shape in college. In the professional world this will help with prioritizing tasks, delegating, or knowing what stuff just really isn’t that important.
If you have already finished college you probably can see bits of all of these things in yourself. These are all skills that shouldn’t be taken for granted, and are desirable qualities in the professional world. So even if you don’t use your degree to land a job in that specific field, you can pad your resume with all of these things your degree taught you along the way and made you into a well-rounded and prepared individual that stands out above others. Don’t sell yourself short, it is okay to pump your own tires about how much you learned on your journey.