If you are my age – college was a long time ago.
Regardless of how long it has been, you probably have many memories. Some memories may be quite fond; others not so much. Either way, you surely remember it as a period of change and growth.
While I remember college like it was yesterday, the reality is – I now have two college kids of my own! That fact alone is enough to make me groan, but this post is not about how old I am. Instead, I want to talk about my recent trip to my girls’ schools and the lessons I learned during my four days on two different campuses.
My learning does not come from the library nor from the most recent journal articles. Instead, it is the result of slowing down long enough to look, listen and absorb. The kids I saw had a ton to teach me when I took the time to observe.
8 Lessons Learned from a Weekend at College:
1. Maintain Your Youthful Enthusiasm – I saw so many smiles and heard so much laughter – make this a central part of your day. College isn’t always fun and games – there is stress and high expectations. That’s what makes the ability to smile and laugh even more impressive.
2. Aggressively Learn (daily) – kids are studying everywhere! They have stacks of books and paper. They are head down and immersed into learning massive amounts of new content and insights. While they “have to” – it is a lesson you should never forget.
3. Build your Community – new faces, new friends and new relationships are the norm. There is an expectation to meet new people and learn his/her individual story. Every event, class or party is utilized to meet new people and build your network. You need to do the same – reach out and connect – you’ll be glad you did.
4. Chase your Dreams – None of these kids have yet to “arrive.” They know it, but they enjoy the chase and still have a sparkle in their eye when talking about the future. They talk about who they want to be, what they want to do and their dreams for the future – it is intoxicating!
5. Find Happy in the Simple – When you don’t have much – you find happiness in the simple. A walk, a pizza, a dance or a sunny Saturday. It isn’t the pursuit of “stuff” it’s the enjoyment of the moment. Can you be happy with a frisbee or cold pizza at 2:00 a.m.? Try it!
6. Share Willingly – It isn’t about “acquiring” or “having more.” It is about sharing what you have and doing it with a joyful heart. The kids give what they have to those around them. They take joy in sharing what they get such that others experience the gift as well. A box of cookies from home get passed around the quad with joy.
7. Don’t Settle – When a class, roommate, schedule, extracurricular activity don’t work as required – they fix it. Add/drop class, switch activities and even get help to fix a roommate challenge. Look to fix and improve – not settle.
8. Ask for Help – The resource centers are always full. Students don’t feel the need to go it alone – they ask for tutors, use their advisors, access the counseling center and utilize office hours and writing centers. The environment expects you to reach out. The resources are available – those who don’t are the exception.
These were my positive lessons. However, if I’m honest, it wasn’t all positive. Here are the two things from college I can easily leave behind!
- Bad Food – While certainly abundant – I can’t say I miss it! I know the freshman 15 is expected – not sure what all those carbs could do to a 54 year old!
- No Sleep – Parties that start at 11:00 p.m.?? I’ve already gotten up to pee twice by the time their party is just getting going! Not for me.
Do the Work:
College is over – I get it. I’m not asking you to go back to school. I’m asking you to live and learn like a college kid. There really are some fundamental elements of their life you should keep on the front burner.