Let’s get the obvious out of the way: In college, yes, you learn things like math and economics and how to
construct logical arguments BS for thousands of words about literature. You take classes, you do homework, you read, and at the end of it all, you’re supposed to leave with critical thinking skills, mathematical knowledge, or decent familiarity with medieval Spanish pottery, depending on what you’re taking.
But that’s not all college is (and if it is, then frankly, you’re doing it wrong). You learn so much more than what’s written in your textbooks, and we here at TP wanted to give you just a small sample:
On Practical Knowledge
For many students, college is the first time they’re living without parents. Independence is new and exciting…and comes with a huge set of lessons.
Fruit attracts fruit flies.
Pretty self-explanatory. Don’t leave fruit out (or any other food, for that matter) for extended periods of time in your room. And take out the trash often enough that this doesn’t become an issue.
How to fix all the things.
These lessons are learned more off-campus than on-campus, but they’re still important college experiences. You don’t know how to unclog a toilet? Well, you’re going to have to learn. Calling someone to repair something for you can be expensive, and between tuition and Chipotle, it’s just not happening.
TP writer Dressler Parsons shares, “If your toilet won’t stop flushing, open up the top of the tank and push the drain cover back into the hole. Magic!”
A friend of mine put a hole in his desk freshman year and learned how to repair it to avoid charges. One thing’s for sure: after living on your own for a while, you’ll have enough training to be a pro repairman. (You know, if your other, college-education-required plan doesn’t pan out.)
You probably don’t need to pack that.
I go home on planes, and I go home frequently enough to know exactly how much I can/should shove into my carry-on luggage. (I don’t have $50 to not sit on top of my luggage.) Tip: You’re not going to read all those books on the plane. You’re not going to do all that homework over break. Leave it in your room and create some space for holiday presents.
Dressler has a similar college lesson: “don’t pack more than two pairs of pants/shorts, underwear, and a couple shirts. It’s so easy to think you need to bring home ALL THE CLOTHES YOU OWN because you’re obviously going to be going out on the town to all these fancy events over break. No. You’re going to be at home, lounging on the couch, enjoying the fact that you don’t have to shower or even get out of your pajamas in order to eat breakfast.”
On Acting Like an Adult
College is this weird time where almost everyone is technically a legal adult but everybody is still learning how to do it.
Saying “no” is sometimes really necessary.
This isn’t specifically in regards to drugs and alcohol (though, please, just say no). College freshmen in particular tend to over-commit because they don’t realize that they only have twenty-four hours in a day. (At least, that’s what I did, and continue to do.)
You need to eat and sleep.
Consecutive all-nighters and days where you’re too busy to eat will catch up to you. You are not invincible. And school is important–you need school to get a job, as well as to learn all the lessons discussed previously–but you need to take care of yourself first.
Adults can be children, too.
If you ever work extensively with actual non-college-aged adults–whether for a project at school or for work–you find out quickly that they aren’t really too different from you. Most of the time, they’re also just trying to figure things out.
Because you never really stop learning.