Everyone knows that in order to amount to anything, you have to go to college. While I agree that college is a wise decision, the untemplater in me knows that the real reasons for attending are not the ones you hear every day.
In fact, there are tons of misconceptions about why you should attend a university. The conventional wisdom consists of the following steps:
- Attend a four-year college with a good reputation
- Suck up to professors to get good grades
- Get good grades in order to go to law or grad school
- Get an entry-level position with a large corporation that will “”treat you right”
The untemplater knows there has to be a better way; there have to be more compelling reasons to spend another four years in scchool. Having come to the end of my university experience, here are four things the untemplater should learn in college:
1) Learn How to Be Persuasive
College is the time to learn how to deal with all types of people. Your university probably has students from all sorts of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The structure of classes forces you to sit next to and interact with people you probably wouldn’t any other way.
With this diversity and forced interaction comes an awesome opportunity to learn what makes other people tick. Learn what other people like, dislike, and how to help them recognize both. Learn how to be persuasive, how to present an argument and get others to agree with you. This “soft skill” as it’s called in the business world will take you far.
2) Learn How to Work in Groups
At least half of the classes I attended included some form of group work. Now is the time to learn how to delegate, make group decisions, and disagree artfully. Gone are the days of the lone ranger, “collaboration” is the buzzword in today’s business world.
Even if you choose the untemplater path of a freelancer, you will always be consulting with other business owners: asking for their opinions, outsourcing tasks, and collaborating on large projects. Unless you are going to be an accountant or programmer tucked away in a cubicle, learn how to work in groups.
3) Learn How to Start a Business
There is no better time than college to start your own business. Think about it: what responsibilities do you really have? What is holding you back? Life is only going to get more complicated from here when partners, children and mortgages come along.
If you fail now, it will hurt a lot less. So start a business and learn from your mistakes. In college I was able to start a web design business and blog in my spare time. It sure was more instructive and profitable than playing Xbox or partying.
4) Learn How to Learn
Sounds obvious, but hear me out. Most people go to college and their chief concern is getting good grades. They spend hours sucking up to professors, milking their grades and looking for extra credit. All of this work in hopes that a large corporation with a good name will hire them.
The untemplater follows a different path. Instead of grade-grubbing, focus on learning. Take classes you are genuinely interested in and learn what is important to you and your career. Worry less about the letter grade and more about the information.
How to Do It Right
Now, don’t get me wrong, grades are important. Make sure you pass your classes! I graduated with an average GPA and had very little trouble finding employment that interests me, even in this economy. As long as you have something to show for in place of your less-than-stellar grades (like starting your own business), many companies that aren’t stupid will want to hire you.
College is an awesome time to learn skills that will help you in your untemplater career. Just don’t get sucked into grade-grubbing and other useless conventional wisdom.
What untemplater skills did you learn in college?
Kathleen O'Connor says
I regret going to college right after high school. I was so immature at the time. I wasn’t ready to make the most of all that my college offered. Thankfully, I didn’t go to a school with grades so there was no silly competition based on numbers and letters. But I do think you have to have certain level of maturity and direction in order to go to a college where you have to decide your own course of study and there are no gen ed requirements. So, my only regret is that I wasn’t completely ready for that kind of flexibility. But I guess everything happens for a reason, right?
Richard @ Lifestyle Design Unleashed says
Personally I found that gaining in confidence from experiencing (and surviving!) a range of new situations really helped me. The person before uni was totally different to the person afterwards because I grew up, took control of my life and gained in confidence and I think this really helped me.
Financial Samurai says
It really is important to build relationships and communities who will want to help you out selflessly. It’s kind of like The Yakezie Group!
That said, better to get a 4.0. It will make your life easier when applying for the best jobs. No excuses!
Damien Olenslager says
Amen to Scott and Matthew, the awesome thing about the college community is that almost everyone you run into is bright and going somewhere with their lives. College is the perfect setting for effective, meaningful networking.
Adventure-Some Matthew says
I would expand Scott’s advice to include not only professors, but anyone and everyone! Network with your professors, the dean of your college/department, administrators and office workers, and fellow students. You never know who someone knows and how you can help each other.
I would also add that getting to know, and building relationship with, your professors is pretty important. Most profs in the business, communication, org psychology, or many other departments also work as consultants on the side, and they have vast networks of colleagues and former students that can really open doors for you. However, the biggest challenge is differentiating yourself from other students. Rather than doing the office hours visit, offer to take him/her to lunch and talk. Add value in any way you can – pass along a relevant article, offer to help out, etc.
The goal is for you to violate expectations positively (a line given to me by my college mentor, and a man whom I now consider a personal friend), but do it outside of the classroom context.
Once you have that rapport with your professor, make the ask. Most, if not every, professor will be willing to help you get a jump on your career. But many students don’t think to ask them. So ask. After all, if you’re not swinging the bat you’re not hitting the ball.