The 10 Most Important Things I Learned in College, Part II
Kyle Florence
kflor654@uwsp.edu

Few will deny that college is a time of personal growth and self- discovery. During this brief window of opportunity, our constant exposure to new people, beliefs and viewpoints allows us to get a better idea of not only who we are, but also who we want to be. Not surprisingly, the road to personal enlighten is fraught with countless lessons along the way, all of which are necessary, but some of which can really suck. For that reason, I have compiled my personal list of The Ten Most Important Things I Learned In College, in hopes that all the knowledge I’ve gained in the past five years can in some way help you navigate these turbulent, unpredictable waters that everyone keeps referring to as “the best years of your life.”

Take Criticism Into Account: Writing, in some capacity or another, has been a personal hobby of mine for almost as long as I can remember; likewise, when I declared myself a journalism major, I was certain that I was already well ahead of the learning curve. Actually, scratch that; I was certain I was ahead of the learning curve. In fact, I was a cocky as all hell. That is, until I started entering my 300 level, core courses, and the head of my emphasis slowly began tearing my assignments limb from limb like a Hun. At first, I ignored this said professors input, assuming, naturally, that I couldn’t possibly be wrong, and rather that this educator had a perpetual case of ‘the Mondays.’

But as the poor grades began to pile up, eventually I had no choice but to apply all of my professor’s harsh critique to my own work, and guess what? I started doing better. Not only that, I started doing a lot better. Turns out, this professor didn’t just like making students lives miserable, but instead he really wanted to see them succeed, and take something away from his course(s). I am confident that I wouldn’t be half the wordsmith I am today had it not been for the constant pressing of this faculty member, and the experience always reminds me to stay modest, and constantly take healthy criticism into account. These individuals are almost always trying to help you, so let them.

Stay Healthy: I know, health education teachers have been beating this idea into your head since the 5th grade, but this notion becomes especially relevant, and increasingly difficult to stay on top of, during your undergraduate years. Long story short, you’ll not only physically be in better shape, but you’ll feel a hell of a lot better. So find some sort of way to break a sweat, and do it on a regular basis; bonus points if you legitimately enjoy it, as you’ll be way more likely to make said activity a regular part of your routine.And if you lack motivation, just remember that more you exercise, the more you can eat whatever the hell you want. Additionally, do what you can to get in your eight hours every night; dragging yourself to your 8 a.m. physics lab will be infinitely more difficult if you were up until 2 a.m. the night before searching for the perfect Grumpy Cat meme to convey how you’re feeling.

Begin Becoming Financially Dependent: I’m not saying that your birthday money from Aunt Edna needs to go towards your retirement fund just yet, but realize that eventually your parents won’t be there to do your taxes for you, help you out with your rent, or bail you out when you get screwed over by a crappy landlord. Take classes, attend seminars; do whatever it takes to at least somewhat prepare yourself for adult life after college, and of course, spend wisely, because nothing sucks more than when all your friends are ordering Marvin’s and you have to resort to eating a peanut butter sandwich for the third night in a row. Also, if you’re able, I am a huge proponent for on-campus jobs. The requirements are usually menial, and though many only pay minimum wage, that’s still better than nothing. Sure, balancing scheduled shifts amongst classes, homework, and extracurricular activities can sometimes be difficult, but if I can do it, I promise that you can too.

Don’t Forget To Breathe: This can sometimes be the most difficult lesson to keep in mind, but it my opinion, it is one of, if not the most important. College can be stressful; if I had a nickel for every mental breakdown I’ve had over the course of the past five years, I would’ve already invested in an ostrich to ride to class. Unfortunately I’m still hoofing it, but my point is, I survived and so will you. You’ll fail in life over and over again and this is especially true during your undergraduate years when you are struggling to determine who you are and what you want to do with the rest of your life, but above all else, you have to keep going. Why you ask? Well, because quite frankly, you have no other option, unless you’re content with a very dull, very unfulfilling existence. I promise, one way or another, all your work will get done and no matter how bad things seem at the time, all storms, regardless of their severity, eventually pass. That being said, when things are tough don’t be scared to step back from the situation, take a deep breath, and gather yourself; just be careful not to stagnate. Trust me, your sanity will thank you later.

Make The Most Of Your Time: Maybe I’m getting a little nostalgic now, but it’s true what they say, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” Well, the same can be said for college, friends. This will likely be the only time in your life when you pretty much have total control of your schedule, an immense amount of free time, and no one to report to. Expose yourself to as many new and unique experiences as you can, get to know as many different people as you are able, and don’t let your fear of sharks keep you out of the water. Stay up past curfew, find your passion and immerse yourself in it. Netflix binges have their place in the grand scheme of things, but don’t lost sight of the fact that you’ll never be as free to make mistakes as you are now.​