Five Lessons College Taught Me

Since I’m graduating college in roughly two weeks (I’m still in disbelief), I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my college career. I’ve noticed that the girl I started college as and the woman I’m leaving college as, are not the same person at all. I pulled out pictures and videos of my life over the past three and a half years and noticed myself smiling, laughing, and of course, being a little embarrassed. While I was doing all of that, I thought about how much I’ve learned from college—outside of my courses. I learned countless lessons in college, but there are five in particular that I felt were most important.

1. Tolerance and acceptance are two very different things.

Tolerance is very different from acceptance, but those two words seem to get very mixed up in our society, and especially among some of the personnel I encountered in college. Acceptance is being in favor of something. Tolerance, on the other hand, is the ability to put up with opinions/feelings/beliefs that are not the same as yours. To be a well-rounded person, you don’t have to accept everything—you just have to be able to tolerate it. The ability to understand other views—even the ones you don’t agree with—and still be able to have your own beliefs and feelings are such important skills that will help you be a mature, thoughtful person. No one will ever agree with each other fully, and that’s just fine. Our individual beliefs are what make us unique and beautifully different.

2. Pick and choose your battles.

I know this is a redundant saying, but if there was any time I especially learned to pick and choose my battles, it would be throughout my college career. Some things in life just are not worth the fight. If you don’t agree with something, you don’t always have to argue. You don’t always have to get out there and “do something” about it. I’ve met so many people that jump at the chance to argue or disagree just because they simply can. More times than not, I have let situations like that roll off my back, but sometimes, I didn’t. However, I learned that the more battles I chose, the more frustrated—not relieved—I felt. There’s no sense in getting heated over something that really doesn’t matter. Save that heat for when you really, truly need it.

3. The friends that stick with you from Freshman to Senior year are your true friends.

Throughout my entire college career, I met so many people and was a part of lots of different activities. In my college, I was a cheerleader/dancer, an orientation leader, a sorority member, a member of a few clubs, and did a few more things I know I’m forgetting. I met some of the best people I know throughout my time in all of those activities. I had team members that I considered my second family, fellow leaders that I had intelligent conversations with, sisters that I had long-night laughs with, and club members that I joked around with. Every single one of those souls will always be in my heart, even if we weren’t always close. Like every other activity, when it ends, sometimes the friendships seem to too. However, throughout all of those activities, there were a handful of friends that I stayed close to no matter what. We experienced every emotion possible with each other, and I’m happy that I get to call them my best friends. They are people that I know will take the world by storm, even more so than they already are, and I’m happy I’ll be able to still be a part of their lives when they do. Those people who stay with you through everything are your true friends. I hope you find yours like how I found mine. (P.S. I love you guys!)

4. College makes you grow more than any other time in your life.

Your views, intelligence, work ethic, emotions, ideals, values—everything—changes and grows in college. Everyone used to tell me that college changes you, but I had no idea how much. I ended my senior year of high school naive, shy, sure that I knew everything, and desperate for a new start. Now, I’m ending college a whole new person. I’m more confident, outgoing, and ready to take on the world. I’ve matured and learned that I don’t know everything, and I’m thankful for that because learning really is half the adventure. I learned so much about myself in just three and a half short years; I can’t even believe it sometimes.

5. People are more than they seem.

This lesson that I learned may seem obvious to some people, and I thought it was obvious at first too, but then I learned that it’s not. It took me my entire first year of college to realize that the people I was meeting were more than what they appeared to be. The people I realized this most about were my professors. My professors weren’t just professors—they were mentors and people I connected with (emotionally and professionally). They taught me not only what was on our syllabus, but about life as well. One of my favorite professors always pushed me to get outside my “comfort zone.” For the first few months I had this professor, I thought he just meant about my work. A after having him for more courses, I realized that he was teaching me how to get outside of my comfort zone in every aspect of my life. I talked to people I would have just walked by before. I noticed more about sights and sounds. I became more confident about going places and introducing myself.

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