College is the prime time for self-discovery and intellectual exploration. But after four(ish) years in an academic utopia, you will be prepared to enter the “real” world with all of the knowledge needed to be successful throughout the rest of your life, right?
We live in a high-speed, constantly changing world, and the necessity to continue to learn and to evolve will grow exponentially in the years to come. In today’s knowledge economy, ongoing skill development isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a need-to-have.
So rather than thinking of college as the last four years of learning, think of it as the perfect time to begin the path to life-long learning.
Life lessons learned throughout college will help you to realize that some things are in your control, while others are not. You may not do as well as you expected on a paper, you might get rejected from a club, or you could have a hard time landing a job or internship. Only some aspects of these things are completely within your control. However, the ability to continuously acquire new knowledge and new skills and to re-invent yourself is not.
You may not want to think about it now, but it’s likely that your future career will span 40+ years. Think about the changes in technology and business that have happened in the last few decades: 40 years ago there was no Internet, no mobile technology, and no social media. Changes in the past few decades have also redefined career mobility for millennials. Studies show millennials now expect to stay at each job for only a few years. So most likely, your first job won’t be the one you have forever, and even if you are there for a while, what is expected of you will change. With that being said, the more skills you can acquire through college and beyond, the better off you will be.
It may surprise you that even though you are currently in college, you don’t need to wait until you’ve graduated to expand your learning horizons. Right now, you can decide to take a class on something that interests you at another local university through online classes or webinars or at a local studio. Websites like AllClasses, Coursera, and edX can connect you to different classes all over the world, both in-person and online. With a little exploring, you will discover that informative and interesting classes are right at your fingertips.
So remember, your degree will give you a great start, but life-long learning will help you be successful over the next 40+ years despite the changes whirling around you.