College – What They Don’t Tell You Beforehand

Looking back on my college experience, I’ve realized that there are certain things that I’ve learned about the process that I didn’t necessarily get before starting it. These things have shaped my life, for good or for bad, so I thought I would impart them on all willing listeners who will move forward into, and continue moving through this stage.

1. College sports will slow down your career.

If you make a conscious decision to participate and strive for excellence in a college sport, this will effect your career path and impare your ability to grow business relationships, complete internships, and grow your skills to immediately become an attractive job prospect out of college. It is possible to maintain this growth if you choose to only “get by” in sports, but if you make any conscious decision to be good at what you do, your career growth will suffer. At least in the short-term.

Conversely, sports will create greater friendships, impart happiness, and build work-ethic, all things that can help your career, health, and life decisions long term. However, if you are looking at becoming a mover and a shaker, and your field requires that, taking the temporary path of college sports without a professional possibility is really a rather bumpy road to follow.

2. Assess the value of your college situation.

So many people will step into an avenue because of one option, and when it falls through, stay in the same arena. At the school I attended, Chapman University, the film school was a large draw, and hundreds of students would attend the general University even after being declined attendance to the film school, most likely hoping to get in later. Few of these people ever did, meaning that they were still forking the 40k-a-year-tab because they were too afraid of change. Others attended for majors and minors that had little specialty at the University, and were relatively weak compared to other, cheaper Universities.

Why were they paying this large amount? Mostly because they a) were local and too lazy and afraid of change or b) they had another intention originally and changed their mind, but were already a year in, had made a few friends and hated the idea of possibly having to gain new ones or move their clothes somewhere else.

So many people in this situation will have four to five years of financial strife because they were afraid to take a real assessment of their college situation to realize that the price they were paying did not match the value they were receiving back.

3. At small schools, Fraternities will hook you up before Athletics will.

I’m sure schools like Florida and Ohio State have alumni flock back in droves to support their athletic programs, but at small schools where the return on their lives was smaller, the athletes often do not feel as passionate about their previous collegiate connection and do not return.

Fraternities still feel a similar passion that any other school would feel, meaning that the alumni connections, money and eternal bond with the program will persist. This means that joining a fraternity is just as likely to get you friends (the quality of which is debatable), but way more likely to get you a job, and wayyy more likely to get you a lifetime connection to an organization you love.

(P.S. – I wasn’t in a fraternity.)

4. Build relationships with high level executives at your school.

These relationships are not that difficult to grow. It is their job to cater to your needs, so with a little watering and a bit of effort, you can become a known name to a school President, COO or the like. These people are the ones who connect with the C-Level executives on the school board who will get you jobs at the best companies. These people also know what they’re talking about, given that they’re successful, and will have plenty of good advice that they are very willing to hand over to you.

It will never be as easy to talk to influential, powerful, smart people regularly as it will be in this environment.

5. Grades mean absolutely nothing. Take 18+ units and get all Cs.

No employer really cares about grades – but they do care that you went to college. You need real skills, not a GPA. So build the skills your prospective job requires, whether or not your classes teach them, and skim through your classes.

Take 18+ units and graduate early. You will save money, impress others, and start your career a year earlier.

Taking note of these things during your college experience will allow you to fully blossom and grow whichever way you choose to. No one way is right – but there is one right way for everyone.