The Only Advice You’ll Ever Need
TL;DR: Trial-and-error is the best way to spend your time in college. Learning what you don’t want is as important (or more) than learning what you do want.
You’re finally free! Free to ignore the tyranny of parental oppression. Free to explore your own independence and fluid sexuality while binge drinking your way to new friendships. Free to make your own choices (as long as they include sitting your ass in a library chair for at least 3–5 hours a day).
It’s weird, isn’t it? With all this power comes some amount of looming responsibility. After all, your parents expect you to make the most of college, and not just in a “let’s see how many nights in a row we can drink” way.
Believe me, it’s far too easy to blindly follow the rules of parents, teachers, and advisors. Instead of choosing a path that will probably end in disappointment, I want you to try something a little different:
Think for yourself.
Too many of you will feel pressure from friends, family members, and other authority figures to choose a major, put your head down, and leave this pivotal period of time with a piece of paper that simply says you know how to study and take tests.
I want to offer an unpopular piece of advice that will help you do so much more:
Don’t focus on your formal education. Focus on your self-education.
Don’t worry so much about grades. In the long run, straight As don’t guarantee happiness.
Don’t stress out over every single test. In the “real world,” application of knowledge looks VERY different than multiple choice, short-answer, or essay.
Don’t tie your self-worth to a diploma. There are plenty of successful people in the world who don’t have a piece of paper hanging up in their office.
It’s easy to forget, but college can be the most influential four years of your life if you use this time to explore. You should be taking classes you’ve never heard of, joining groups you never knew existed, and talking to people from places you’ve never been.
If you fast-forward 50 years from now, you won’t care about tests, quizzes, or papers. You won’t even care about the location of your diploma.
Do you want to know what you’ll be worried about?
This all-consuming feeling will stay with you until one day, it will rear its ugly head and cause you to sadly reminisce about “the good ‘ol days.”
For many people, college makes up most of those days. It’s a time where you learn not only about the world, but also about yourself. This includes who you are, what you want in life, and how to communicate it to others.
If you choose not to explore, there is a chance you will luck into a path that brings you happiness. In my opinion, this is the exception, not the rule.
So, which will it be?
Will you look back 50 years from now with fondness, satisfied with the opportunities you took and things you tried, or will you be filled with regret, like so many others who chose to listen to everyone but their own inner voice?