Recently I have been on a bit of a list mode. As my first semester at an American university is wrapping up with two weeks before finals, I figured I would share some of my experiences. College has been extremely humbling for me. I came into college, believing that I would have an easy time in (but not necessarily breeze through) college. Hate to break it, but I was dead wrong. I am sure that I can possibly attribute it to my major, chemical engineering, but at the same time there are a lot of factors that turn against you when your in college. Here’s nine points of truth about one of the most humbling experience you will ever have:
1. You know nothing. Trust me, the earlier you accept it the better off you will be in college. You pay to attend in order to gain knowledge (idealistically) and a degree (realistically), but it will be much easier to pursue the latter if you are wide open to attaining more of the first.
2. No one knows anything. Literally. There a ton of concept, science, and information out there that no one can know it all. Even the masters of their fields will have gaps. This is why academia is a huge collaboration.
3. Only the basics are computable. When computing your physics problem of a car rolling to a stop in your PHYS 200 class, remember that you are leaving out a ton of factors in order to have an example simple enough to calculate. It’s never as simple as a few lines of math. This same reasoning applies to more than just math and science. Take economics for example, a lot is analysis and guesswork with probability curves and simplified models. Just be aware that once you look beyond the basics, your mind will be blown.
4. The process you were taught before was never correct. More often than not, you’ll enter a class with a good background only to find out that you have been doing it wrong the whole time. Turns out that it was oversimplified to make it teachable to high schoolers…
5. Valedictorian in high school? Not anymore. If you breezed through high school, be ready for a wake up call. I had taken college classes in high school because I ran out of classes to take and I still find that actual university classes are harder. Lovely.
6. In every class, something with always sound like a foreign language. Of course this is true if you actually are taking a foreign language, but it is also true no matter what subject. There is always some bit of information or important concept that you must wrap your head around that seems completely counter-intuitive.
7. You meet awesome people. The best part of college is the people you meet. You’ll make many lifelong friends and meet interesting characters. Simple advice: respect everyone. I guarantee you that you can learn something from every one.
8. Someone’s always better than you at something. That’s just outright life, but it becomes clearly evident when you begin to meet the thousands of people on campus. Don’t fret it though, just enjoy and strive to hone your skills.
9. The world costs a ton. This is the killer. The big pain and worry that you now have to deal with. Turn this negative into a positive by playing the game. See how much you can save off of this or that item by shopping around. Never pass up free. Oh, and coupons are your best friend.
Nothing says “welcome to life” more than college. For those about to enter college – don’t despair! The challenges are easily overcome with decent awareness and diligence.