After I told a crowd at a keynote for a large national association that by 2025 over 75% of the workforce would be college-educated, purpose-seeking Millennials, someone jokingly shouted out, “God help us!”
Some laughter ensued. But sadly, she was (literally) right. God help us indeed. Just 13% of the world’s population even likes what they do. Here in the US, only about 27% of people are engaged in their jobs. Work as we know it is in serious need of reform – and our upcoming generation is the answer.
While college is not the path to success, it remains a vital one to society. And one statistic proves it: People with Bachelor’s degrees are 70% more likely to vote in local elections. Meaning your local leaders will most likely be elected by a majority of those educated in US colleges and universities.
So, what should colleges be teaching? Do we want future leaders who hinge their success on an arbitrary GPA and a high starting salary as Forbes Magazine would suggest?
Or do we want future leaders whose measure of success is becoming well-rounded, resilient, and finding a meaningful purpose in the world?
Recently, I asked a college senior, Nikki, from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado to reflect on the top lessons she learned while in college.
Whether you’re about to start college in the fall or are nearing retirement, her answers and advice (if enacted) are life-changing.
(Note the lack of mention of GPA and Chemistry exam grades).
18 Life Lessons from a College Senior
by Nikki Buhrdorf
My college advisors, friends, and family told me that I would study and learn countless bits of information in my classes that I could then apply to get a good job. I was told this was key to my future and my success. And I believed it.
But the most significant lessons I learned in college didn’t come from a Chemistry textbook, they came from finding and pursuing my own purpose in life.
Here are the most important things I learned over the past four years.
College is worth it.
1. Try not to over-analyze things. Let yourself be as you are.
Answers will come when you least expect them and sometimes we don’t need an explanation for everything. I’ve learned that the most beautiful things in life are the very things we can’t explain.
2. Don’t “should” yourself.
Why look at “should” when we can act on “can” or “will”? Living a “wish” list will never get you anywhere.
3. Mindfulness and self-care are incredibly important to serve others around you well.
4.Your self-worth is not defined by any of these numbers: ACT/SAT, GPA, Salary.
They do not determine if you are smart or successful and will not make or break your future.
5. Let it be. Not let it go. (Sorry Frozen).
We humans like control. Yet, we’ll never have it. “Letting it go” indicates that you are fighting to control the uncontrollable. Instead, accept the situation for what it is; learn and change what you can. Let it be and move on.
6. College isn’t all about the education you receive; it’s about what you experience.
College is about the experiences behind the diploma.
7. You are enough. You are worthy.
You give to the world, you are the world, and therefore you deserve the world.
8. Be patient.
Everything will work out for the best.
9. Spend time concerning yourself with the bigger goals in life.
Oftentimes we become stuck on small, earthly concerns. How stressful is that? Keep your mind focused on looking up. When you serve something greater than yourself, you become a greater you.
10. If you’re scared, just jump in anyways.
Really what’s the worst that can happen? Every fear is an opportunity to discover your potential.
11. Live life with purpose.
Because why would you want to simply float through life? You were put on this Earth for a reason. Discover it and act on it.
12. Comparison is the thief of joy.
You offer a unique gift to the world that no one else can match.
13. Happiness takes commitment and commitment takes happiness.
These two things together make up love. This goes for relationships and career goals.
14. Everything happens for a reason.
People come into your life for a reason, sometimes a season, and some stay for a lifetime. Don’t be afraid to grow and say goodbye when you move in a different direction. But hold on tight to the ones that grow with you.
15. Leadership is selflessness, strength, flexibility, and adaptation.
Adapt to situations, be flexible in your methods, stay strong in your values, and serve others selflessly.
16. It’s the experiences and relationships you make in life that matter.
Lists of accomplishments and material things aren’t as important as the people who are standing beside you in life.
17. Be a like a duck.
Appear to others as calm, cool, and collected, even though underneath you’re paddling like hell. No one likes a stress-ball.
18. Don’t wait around for life to happen. It’s already happening.
Spend your time doing the things you love. Discover your passions and run after them.
College is a center for growth, discovery, overcoming trials and adversity, developing relationships, and celebrating accomplishments. It can be really hard to remember that life is about more than just a Physics exam, the red light turning green, or the “To-Do” list on the fridge.
In the blink of an eye the college experience will be over. And that’s just the beginning; life happens. I want to look back on every day and say, “Today I lived.” I don’t want to take this gift for granted.
In making the most out of life, my soul will be happy.