From the hard sciences to the fine arts, there are many subjects one can become knowledgeable about during their tenure in college.
However, many graduates make the mistake of thinking they know everything once they complete their degree.
As you will see below, real life has countless additional lessons in store – rather than learning about them the hard way, check them out below.
1) The learning has only begun
Every year, there is no shortage of graduates who confidently stroll off the stage, certain they are heading straight into a six-figure role where they can have a real impact on the world.
Almost immediately, they are fed a fat slice of humble pie – filled with knowledge after getting their degree, they are shocked to end up in a 40k/year job where managers react to their ideas with total indifference.
They don’t do this to be rude (most of the time) – they do it because you aren’t showing any respect to the unwritten rules that exist in many workplaces.
Listen, and then listen some more. The time will come when your academic training and intellect will pay off, but for now, commit to learning how things are done in your industry.
2) How to set goals
If you thought to fit in a three-page essay between studying for two midterms was tough, then you are in for a rude awakening after graduation.
When your boss dumps a pile papers on your desk and expects a report on their desk 9 am the next morning, you’ll need to have a plan of attack to get the job done in style.
To do this, you’ll need to learn how to break down big projects into small tasks and how to prioritize them.
3) Friendships atrophy if you don’t maintain them
The initial years of your career will be busy ones, and they will likely take place in a city far away from your college friends.
While distance may make the heart grow fonder, this maxim only really applies if you actually make time to see your buddies on a regular basis.
If years pass without contact, they will have made new connections in their lives, and you will have nothing but your greek letter shirts to remind you of the good times you once had together.
Make time for each other, and the bonds of friendship will remain strong.
4) How to read people
In college, your peers were more or less on the level with you, as you were working together to learn during the week and to have fun on the weekends.
In the workplace, coworkers might be chummy with you because they want to be friends, or they may want to manipulate you.
The office is an environment tailor-made to serve the ends of the sociopath – the faster you learn to read a person’s true intentions, the sooner you’ll prevent others from taking advantage of your good will.
5) Relationships matter
In school, you got good grades by working hard. In the workplace, creating value should mean that you’ll get the promotion, but frequently, those who are well-connected are the ones who advance up the corporate ladder.
If you haven’t started learning how to network by joining a fraternity/sorority, begin learning how to approach people in your field. Reading Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone is a good starting point.
6) Money isn’t earned by your degree, but by how much value you create
Over the years, the slick marketing machines of major schools sold us on the idea that a university degree = big money.
While stats bear this out, the devil is always in the details. The highest earners in any industry don’t make their money by knowing the inner working of an atom or being well-versed on the philosophies of Immanuel Kant, but by delivering big-time value to the companies that employ them.
This means being a specialist in an industry that is starving for them – there is no shortage of philosophers out there, but there is a serious lack of elite programmers, engineers, technical writers, tradespeople, and so forth.
Find a pain point in the world and make yourself the solution.
7) How to manage your finances
A college-educated person may earn more money than those without a degree, but you would be shocked to learn that a large percentage of them struggle to balance their checkbook each month.
No matter your fortunes after school, know this: he/she who sets aside money for themselves before anyone else will never have to worry about their finances going forward.
With a strong cash position, you can face whatever the future holds with confidence.
8) Writing for academia is very different than writing in the working world
One of the biggest shots to the ego a student can suffer after school is criticism for how they write. Accustomed to the norms of academic writing where they got A’s with ease, they are shocked and confused with the rebukes they get from their managers. Don’t they know brilliance when they see it?!
Know that flowery prose celebrated in college is frowned upon in business environments, where an emphasis is placed on clear and concise communication.
9) You need to look out for yourself (because nobody else will)
In college, the focus was on having fun and learning for the sake of learning. In the real world, many of your peers are focused on accumulating as much money as they can. Some of them will betray your trust if they can achieve that end.
As a result, you always need to be watching your own back – unlike your fraternity days, your brothers won’t be there to save you when Sam from Accounting stabs you in the back in order to get the open manager position over you.