The Most Important Lessons Not Taught in the Classroom

Aug 3, 2023

The college experience is rightfully centered around academics.  A successful and fulfilling life, however, requires more in the way of knowledge and skills than can be covered in the classroom.  The good news is that each of these soft or life skills can be developed and cultivated in the college/university environment.  In fact, there are few better settings in which to grow as a person.  Don’t underutilize these Halcyon years by focusing on academics to the exclusion of all else. 

Here are a few ideas on how to enhance your education experience and at no additional cost!

Hone your communication skills.

Learn to listen and actively practice listening.  It’s the most important communication skill and it’s one few possess.  Write and speak to be understood clearly.  Seek feedback from professors and peers.  You’ll stand apart from most.

Does your school have a debate team or club? Do you have access to a Toastmasters chapter?

Be accountable.

Accountability is just a habit, albeit a valuable one!  Do what you say – meet the commitments you make.  Always strive to tell the truth.  It’s hard and that’s why so few do it with regularity.

Don’t make excuses.  All excuses are the same.

Form a Mastermind group with some of your peers.  Use this group as a source of advice and to help keep you accountable to your commitments.

Get outside yourself.

Seek ways to help others.  Be an outlier in this self-absorbed age.  Give of yourself without an expectation of reciprocation (or recognition).  If there’s a quid pro quo, you’re not giving, you’re trading.

Join a service organization or volunteer with a charity.  There are many choices both on and off-campus.

Be positive.

You were born.

You’re intelligent.

You’re in college.

You can choose the future you want.  So do it!

It’s too easy to live a reactive life.  Don’t do it.  Instead, spend time creating goals.  Measure your progress.  Be prepared to revise your plans as necessary.

See Accountability above.

Practice Unplugging.

We live in a world of continuous distraction.  Social media, texting, TV, gaming, junk food, alcohol, and pot, are, in one sense, all the same – dopamine-inducing distractions. 

Too much dopamine is bad.

Set boundaries on these distractions to drive focus and productivity.

Build and nurture your network.

This takes work and it won’t happen on its own.  Start today!  It’s that important.

It’s said we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.  So surround yourself with the best people possible and leave behind those who are not also creating a fulfilling life.

In closing

Strive to achieve in these non-academic areas and you will be on your way to a fulfilling life.  Without mastery in these areas, all you’ll get out of your 4 years will be a degree.  Wouldn’t it be a shame to leave so much on the table?

The Consulting Business rewards those who’ve learned and mastered the above lessons:

  • You can’t solve anyone’s problems unless you understand them completely and share your ideas clearly.  So listen and be concise.
  • Meet your commitments.  Clients pay for results, not excuses.
  • Get outside of yourself; great consultants see their client’s point of view.
  • Be positive.  This will keep you focused on the solution and less on the problem.
  • Have a plan.  Clients want to know how you’re going to attack their problems.  Set goals and measure results.
  • When it’s time to work, work.  When it’s time to play, play.  TV, FB, Twitter(X?)… these things are not part of play.  They are addictive just like alcohol, tobacco and drugs.  They aren’t your friends and are obstacles to success and a fulfilling career and life.

Enjoy and make the most of these college years.  They’ll be over before you know it!

By John Carpenter, Principal Consultant, Expense Reduction Analysts

Expense Reduction Analysts – John Carpenter and Craig Bartner – recently conducted an brief webinar for the independent colleges in New Jersey on what to consider in conducting an expense review to achieve cash flow optimization. Click here to view and gain insight into consulting benefits.




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