This is the way of it right now for a lot of people coming out of college. They were frightened going in to college, spent most of their college careers jumping through hoops, and finished the program frightened of leaving.
She has been regurgitating information and copying the path of so many that have come before her and now she is unable to create something for herself because she never put herself in the position to do so. She was too busy taking prerequisites and trying to keep her grade point average at a place she was told it should be in order to succeed after college.
It is easy to shift into autopilot in college. Though it is nothing like the highly structured high school curriculum, it is designed to keep you memorizing and imitating. There is so much social anxiety and performance anxiety that very often, it is easiest to follow the path of least resistance.
As the image to the left outlines, that is just a small part of what you can do in college.
The one thing that holds true in almost every area of life is that going into an experience scared will not yield as much as when you can put yourself in a position to go into it with curiosity and confidence. It is best to enter college with an idea of what you want out of it, or at the very least an idea that you will leave an entirely different individual than when you entered. "A job" is a great goal to have, but what about fulfillment? What about meaning? What will help you grow and succeed as a person and a professional after school?
There are a lot of skills that people learn, hard skills that enable them to do a job. But what about the intangibles? What about setting yourself apart from others who could do the same job with the same education? What can you do, what can you learn that will set you apart, make you unique? These are skills you can learn in college without going to classes. Here are five that will be invaluable throughout your entire career:
- Communicate articulately in verbal and written form. Many people leave college without a basic understanding of how to effectively communicate with others. Unless you are in IT, (hahahahaha), you will not go far without this basic skill.
- Handle and use critical feedback to improve. Most people are not able to hear criticism with an open mind, much less use it to improve job performance. Learning how to do this will allow you to improve more quickly, as well as communicate to people that you are easy to work with. People who are easy to work with keep and thrive in their jobs. People who are not easy to work with? They usually don't last as long.
- Keep calm in stressful situations. In any job, you will experience stress. How you handle it will determine how successful you are. A freaked out mind is not one that solves problems easily. A calm, centered mind can handle anything.
- Handle failure. This is a biggie. When you are going through school, so much value is placed on the right answer, the higher scores, the best grades. There is very little room for failure. In college, you have an opportunity to fail spectacularly without fear of much damage. Failure in most cases is a road map to success. If you have the ability to view failure as an opportunity and a chance to improve, you will go far. If you view it as death, or the end of an endeavor, you will not have much success in your professional life.
- Find opportunity. Opportunity is everywhere. Every person you meet can teach you something. Every experience you have can be meaningful. If you go through your college life with blinders on, solely focused on the grades you must get in your classes, you will be missing out on 90% of the value your college experience can provide.
Those are the big five. You want to learn more? Great. Over the next five weeks I will be outlining how to get your soft skills up while you are going through college.
Until then, keep your eyes open and look for opportunity. You might be surprised where you will find it.