In a few weeks, I’ll be graduating from ACU. In a few short years, you will too.
As unemployment continues to rise and college education becomes an expectation rather than a distinguishment, it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate ourselves from the mass of graduates. Now that companies value experience over education, our degrees no longer give us a competitive edge. After all, we’ve spent the past four years in classrooms, not workplaces.
Does that mean we should pull a Steve Jobs and quit school? Not necessarily. College can still be an excellent environment for personal and professional growth. But the benefits of education aren’t handed to us on a silver platter. The burden is on us to milk the college experience for all it’s worth. Here are a few principles to follow as you do just that.
1. Know thyself. What makes you tick? What ignites your passion? If you haven’t figured it out by now, you’re better off taking a gap year. Thousands of dollars in student loans is a terrible price to pay for the wrong major.
2. Be a sponge. Soak up all the knowledge you can. Design your degree around what interests you, even if it doesn’t add up to an official minor on paper. Ask questions. Be curious. Learn all the things! The quality of your education is entirely up to you.
3. Find mentors. Don’t hesitate to forge friendships with professors, even ones from different departments. College is built around the idea of mentorship and it’s why professors teach young people for a living. So be someone’s disciple (or young padawan, if you prefer).
4. Make class work real work. Think of every project as an opportunity to build your portfolio. Measure yourself against industry standards, not the other students in your class. In the end, your work will be more competitive in the real world.
And before you know it, you’ll be walking across that stage, ready to take on the world.