What I Learned in College Wasn’t Found in My $200 Textbook

Groaning at the enormous bill my college bookstore just slammed on me and how heavy my bag was going to be on my way back to my apartment I thought, “Somethings gotta give.”

The deepest, most meaningful lessons I learned in college weren’t found in the text from Psych 101 or even my core major, Public Relation case study books–it was from the people, the professors, the experiences, the music and projects. Not my textbooks.


Some of my best friends from college at graduation, goof balls.

We often bypass or overlook our emotional education, versus the paper diploma hanging on our wall (or our parents’ like mine). Don’t get me wrong, I feel privileged to have a Bachelor of Science and I did learn a lot in regards to education and experience but our emotional education develops who we are and where we go.

Author David Brooks highlights the importance of the other education. Brooks writes, “We don’t usually think of this second education. For reasons having to do with the peculiarities of our civilization, we pay a great deal of attention to our scholastic educations, which are formal and supervised, and we devote much less public thought to our emotional educations, which are unsupervised and haphazard. This is odd, since our emotional educations are much more important to our long-term happiness and the quality of our lives.”

Here’s A Sampling of What I Learned:

  1. How to live on a tight budget, creatively cook food that cost $1.00 and still be resilient.
  2. How to function on little-to-no-sleep after studying or a late night out.
  3. The friends you had freshman year aren’t always the one that stick it through to the end.
  4. The four years of college can pull you tighter in friendships than the friends you may have grown up with.
  5. Your college years are meant to enjoy (really). Go out for drinks on a Thursday even if you have class at 9:00 AM the next morning. It’s okay to be a little tired. You will remember the experiences you had, not your GPA from one semester 20 years down the road. I’m not saying toss everything to the side, just remember the balance. I graduated at the very top of my class (Summa Cum Laude), worked and had internships, yet I had a fun, fulfilling, (yes, even a bit wild) social life too. Books and late night studying aren’t the end all be all. There will never be another time in your life (in terms of age, youth, and inhibition) than college. So embrace all of it.
  6. Take advantage of everything your college offers. It’s available to you and you never know who you could meet. We often become sidetracked or forget that besides the classes you may begrudgingly walk to, there is probably a great student center with activities, classes, causes and trips. I have friends who wished they got their ass of their dorm room couch and actually tried to participate and meet new people.
  7. Work hard, play hard.
  8. Study Abroad. There are so many financial aid, loans and college assistance opportunities out there so seriously, travel abroad. It was the best 6 months of my life. I learned my industry from an international perspective, I traveled Europe, I met lifelong friends and learned the power of indulgence (a.k.a. la dolce vita) thanks to Florence, Italy.
  9. It’s okay to not know what you want to do and lack some direction. You will figure it out. Don’t stress it.
  10. Beware of jungle juice. Although it might be a college prereq, be weary.
  11. You might fall in love, you most likely could have your heart broken. It’s a good time to explore and meet new people. I’ve seen so many friends become lost in a college relationship, some of my college friends are married, some (including me) are no longer with their college love. Don’t forget who your friends are when you meet that boy or girl.
  12. The walk of shame. I think everyone’s gotta do it (at least once, right?) If not, it’s still fun to watch the girl at 8:00 AM struggle in her dress and high heels, clearly, she hasn’t been home yet.
  13. Reach out to your professors. Big or small university (small being more available) professors are there to help, guide and teach you. There’s more to them than the classroom. I still keep in touch with my favorite professors and during college, I would stop by their office and even have dinner at their house. They taught me a lot and helped me along the way (personally and in college).
  14. Question everything. Stand up for what you believe in. This is the time you’re molding your thoughts, ideas and beliefs. Recognize they may change, but always remember: Stay hungry, stay foolish.

What did you learn in college? You know, not the textbook kind of learning, the real, nitty gritty.

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