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5 Important Lessons You Can Only Learn Outside the College Classroom

There are no college classes for working on your character and self-respect. Those things can only be learned with experience, like these five life lessons.

While college prepares us for a degree and career, it doesn’t teach us everything there is to know about life—especially what you'll experience as part of your college and postgrad lives. There are no classes for character, self-respect, or learning how to value others. Those things can only be learned with experience as well as trial and error. Here are five valuable life lessons that can only be learned outside the classroom.

1. Look at your insecurities in the face

Being self-aware is a skill you develop throughout the course of your life, and it can always use some practice. However, it’s absolutely necessary for your personal growth. Life will always be full of adversity, but you can determine whether or not to overcome it and strengthen your emotional resilience.

Related: How to Be More Confident Freshman Year of College

2. Taking action breeds success

Time is precious, and a moment wasted is one you’ll never get back. Waiting for life to give you a sign to start living or hoping that one day everything will be perfect are failures in and of themselves. With that kind of mindset, you can never move forward and will become self-entitled to success. The only way to accomplish your goals is by taking action to accomplish them yourself. You either find a way or make an excuse.

3. Sustaining friendships isn't easy

Friendships were effortless to sustain in elementary and high school because you saw those friends every day. When college and adulthood come into the picture, people begin to focus on achieving their goals, taking responsibility for themselves, and prioritizing their success and happiness. It’s common for friendships in adulthood to fade because it’s easy to neglect important actions such as catching up in person for an hour, telling them how much you appreciate them, or simply calling to ask how they’re doing. This neglect is especially common when friends move to a different city or state. Don’t assume your friends will always be by your side; you need to make the effort to keep them there.

Related: 6 Tips for Maintaining Healthy Relationships in College

4. Open-mindedness is crucial to developing empathy

As you get older, you'll begin to realize that your life is not the only one that matters. Every single person around you has a story worth telling, wants to be respected and understood, and deserves to be treated like a human being. They have also experienced pain, love, disappointment, and heartbreak just like you. Getting to know a person and listening to their stories will enrich your life with a brand-new perspective and prevent you from automatically making assumptions about other people in the future.

5. Setting unrealistic expectations will only disappoint you

No one knows what the future holds, nor can anyone predict every action of another person. Looking at the people and things in your life and accepting them for what they are is crucial for your well-being. Having realistic expectations helps you be honest with yourself and others. You'll also be able to healthily cope with life and people when they disappoint you. 

Related: What I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before I Went to College

College will be an incredible time in your life if you try to make it one. Yes, there will be difficult classes and stressful moments, but there will also be wonderful people to meet, fun parties to attend, and moments of rewarding self-discovery. Through these experiences, you'll eventually come to understand that meeting tight deadlines is a necessary life skill, the dearest friends are individuals who appear out of the blue, and you always need to give yourself more credit. Ultimately, life is the teacher outside the classroom. It’s up to us to be a willing student.

What are some life lessons you’ve learned outside the classroom? Let us know by tweeting us @CollegeXpress.

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About Trevor McDonald

Trevor McDonald

Trevor McDonald is a freelance content writer for JourneyPure Emerald Coast. He has written a variety of education, travel, health, and lifestyle articles for many different companies. In his free time, you can find him playing his guitar or outside enjoying any type of fitness activity imaginable. Check out JourneyPure's new health-tracking app here.


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