5 Life Lessons That You Won’t Learn In College

5 Life Lessons That You Won’t Learn In College

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college lessons in life

I’ve never been a fan of post-secondary formal education. Not because of the skyrocketing tuition prices or the fact that most college students enter school without a solid idea of what job they want. It’s the fact that going to college doesn’t properly prepare you for being a successful adult in the real world.

1. To be successful, you need to be specific about what you want

In college, you can slip by for a few semesters with only a sliver of an idea of what you want to do for a living but when entering the real world, you need to be a little more specific. You need to know exactly what you want from the world so you can create a plan of action and attack your aspirations head on.


2. In most job markets, formal education will always be second to experience

When it comes to hiring, employers value one thing above all else: experience.All the degrees, certifications, letters of recommendation and references in the world are outweighed by the simple sentence:

“Ten years experience with a proven track record of success in the industry.”

To that end, if you like doing something and want to turn it into a career, simply do it.

Do it, practice it, become good at it and, in the end, you’ll land the job you want.


3. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself

You may know the proper way to file end-of-year earnings reports and how many creamers the boss likes in his coffee but, really, what does any of it matter if you don’t know who you are? The average 9-to-5 job pits an individual against themselves and floods them with an overflow of useless knowledge that inhibits their ability to get up-close and personal with their own identities.

To get the most out of your career, you need to find a job, or business, that pushes you to explore your secret talents, and hidden abilities.


4. Enjoying life and having fun is far more important than holding down a steady 9-to-5

Would you spend 40 hours of your free time every week doing something unrewarding? Probably not, right? In a very real sense, every single hour of your life is free time… so why not take advantage of every second of it? If your job doesn’t excite you, and if it isn’t something you would do for free in your spare time… search for a new career.

There’s more to life than a suit and tie, and it’s up to you to find that perfect job — conventional or not — that provides you with the room you need to satisfy your bold and adventurous impulses.


5. If you do happen to take on a 9-to-5, you need to take care of yourself

If you’re making a choice to pursue a steady 9-to-5, go on at least 4 vacations a year. When monotony is running high, your boss is calling you for that expense report for the 7th time in a row and you feel like your head is going to explode… don’t take the afternoon or the next few days to blow things off, fly to Jamaica. Relax under the Caribbean sun, play hooky, and flirt with some locals until you feel like heading back. That down time will do wonders for your mental health and your productivity; you’ll be much happier and able to do your job effectively.

And if your cookie-cutter job doesn’t come with enough off time? Feel no shame in mercilessly negotiating your way into a few extra “sick” days.

Over the years, I’ve learned that happiness doesn’t come from locking yourself into a lifelong career at the age of eighteen. It comes from liberally experimenting with your life’s direction, and having a rather flexible existence.


Ultimately, while college can prepare you for a job that seems interesting at the moment it can’t prepare you for the inevitable changes that you go through in life. In order to truly experience all that life has to offer, you’ve got to define what you want, devote yourself to practicing it, remain true to yourself and pursue your dreams with an open mind.

Like this post? Check out: 10 Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Never Enroll In College


  1. Thank you Trent! This is a really useful article for young people just starting their adult life. I write a blog for students and cover the issues that might arise on the start of their careers. And I totally agree that as long as you are not entirely sure what you want to do in life this 9-to-5 job is just going to make you miserable.

    I myself was a perfect example of a student you described in the first two points: I studied Economics in college without even thinking of how I will use this education in the future and what exactly I want to become. This was a huge mistake – choosing a major without thinking it all through. I have now found what I like to do. And it’s not connected with economics at all. Now that I think of it – I wasted 5 years of college studying something I never liked.

    Anyway, thanks again for this article!

    • Well said….the most important relationship you is the one you have with yourself.

      I always say….

      Whether you’re about to graduate from college, or are 15 years into your career, how do you decide when and what will determine that you’re a success? I see incredibly impressive(graduates) people struggle with this question all of the time.
      The hardest part is that it is undefined and it has to come from you. To me, success means understanding three things: what you want, why you want it and how you’re going to get it.

      “formal education will -always- be second to experience”……I tend to this disagree with this. Where I come from, formal education serves as priority one when applying for Jobs. Somehow many of the baby boomers places a high value on someone with a degree, instead of someone who worked for a Google for years.
      I always say, it is all based on critical factor: Paradigms.

      • “Whether you’re about to graduate from college, or are 15 years into your career, how do you decide when and what will determine that you’re a success? I see incredibly impressive(graduates) people struggle with this question all of the time.”

        I think it’s a common conundrum because, as you said, they dont realize that it is up to them to define success for themselves. Whether you are an entrepreneur, or an employee, you will always have trouble feeling as if you’ve accomplished a great deal, if the definition of success is contrived from another person, or institution.

        I find that most degrees are quite useless because they dont inform prospective employers of the individual’s ability to practically apply the knowledge they have acquired through attending college; it simply displays that the candidate is able to memorize information, and regurgitate it on command.

        This is why doctoral degrees hold so much weight; in order to get one, you have to do your own research, and defend your findings to a board of experts.

        And the comment about formal education being second to experience, it honestly just depends on who you plan on working for. Personally, as an ambitious 20-something entrepreneur, I would never get into business with someone that valued a piece of paper over actual experience.

        I find it rather insulting to work for or with people that you don’t respect, so I choose not to go down that road in my career.

  2. i feel a lot of people loose track of life and get overwhelmed working a job based solely on financial gain. Society has taught people to take the traditional route or the route that guarantees the most money and security. security and money is fine but not living the life you want to live drains you mentally and physically.

    • I agree wholeheartedly.

      Financial gain is probably one of the biggest reasons why people choose certain college majors over others. I’ve met many people that refuse to get a psych degree because they think there’s no money in it, and while I happen to agree with them, I dont think it’s best to choose a career path based solely on it’s money-making potential.

      But the bigger problem is people not negotiating their worth. You can get into a great school, and pursue a field of study that has potential, but if you’re not sure of your worth, you will never be truly happy with your work. If you cant negotiate your way into a few perks, and creature comforts that make your work environment fun, and engaging, jumping the hurdle of formal education seems futile.

    • I agree with Liv.

      Unfortunately, today school trains people to become employees and work a job they hate, for the rest of their lives. Self Education, on the other hand is what all successful people focus on and hence the creation of this amazing site

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