July 20, 2019

BY GARRETT BURCHETT

The lessons your professors teach you in class are of vital importance to you in preparing you for your future career. But the lessons you learn in college outside of class – those will help you in life.

As I concluded what was my third year of post-secondary education, I came to the realization that throughout the many hours in class, listening to lectures on a wide array of topics, working on assignments, building the skills I would need for my future career, I picked up an equal amount of knowledge outside of the classroom in that time.

This knowledge – lessons about life, about people, about myself even – have also prepared me for my life after school, if in a less easy to define way.

Walking into college on my first day, I thought I knew what I was doing with my life; I thought I had this “adult” thing down. High school had prepared me, so I thought, for entering the real world. And in truth it had, but to assume that there was nothing left for me to learn outside the classroom was a foolish notion.

For life is about constantly changing, constantly improving oneself, learning and adapting your beliefs, your ideals and your views based on the new situations, new people and new knowledge that you gain. In that sense, post-secondary education offered me a chance, the same chance you have, for continued growth.

I think that the journalism program was especially helpful in facilitating this growth. In my classes I learned how to write better, to conduct interviews and research, to tell stories. But it also taught me to view the world in a different way, to consider multiple points of view on any situation, to see through the eyes of a person I was talking to. In short, it taught me empathy.

But there are also lessons I learned that apply to being a college student in general. My classmates were a mix of different personalities, with different goals and different skill sets. In working with them I became a more rounded student, watching and learning from them in areas where they were better than me, and offering my assistance in areas of my strengths. The familial atmosphere in my classes allowed me to draw on the experience of my peers to grow my own skills, but it often showed me a different way of looking at problems and finding solutions that I had never thought of.

I was never a very good manager of my time, even though I managed to do fairly well in high school. But when I moved out of my parents’ house at the start of my second year, I committed myself, out of necessity, to become better. Although it was difficult, real growth often only comes in the face of such difficulty. I don’t regret moving out on my own. It was the next step in the path of my life. But I learned that along with the freedom it offered, it also placed greater responsibility on my own shoulders. Only you can find the best way to motivate yourself, and though there was a learning curve, it is a lesson I am glad I learned, because now I have that knowledge going forward in my life.

Everyone’s path through college is different. Everyone faces unique challenges, everyone wants different things out of the college experience. While it is important to remember your goals, to work at and strive for success, it is equally important to enjoy the journey.

Reflecting now on that journey, I see that my academic journey brought me along another journey as well. In these past three years, I came to know myself. I became aware of what I was capable of, but also of my limitations. And now that I know what they are, I can work to push myself, to reach those limits and beyond. Because in that struggle is the greatest lesson I learned in college; growth.

 

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