This weekend marked more than Mother’s Day — it signified a pretty important milestone in my adult life.
10 years ago yesterday, I graduated from Syracuse University, the proud owner of a dual major (Broadcast Journalism and Policy Studies). My parents, brother, grandparents and boyfriend stood watch in the crowd as I listened to commencement speaker Rudy Giuliani talk about the months since the 9/11 attacks and to my professors talk about how much they enjoyed all of us over the previous four years.
College was about preparing me for a career, but I also learned 5 important life lessons that hold true today.
More is Not More
I chose to attend Syracuse because of the strength of its journalism program. I knew that I wanted to make a career in that industry, and that the extremely expensive tuition was an investment. I don’t regret my choice (even when I am looking at a loooong stretch of time before my student loans are paid off) but I think in general, more is not more when it comes to college.
Studying liberal arts or nursing at SU may not have been the same smart investment. I think that for many people, going to a community college or a junior college for preparation can be a really smart move — after all, so many people start with one major and move to another. (Have you heard this story on NPR? Eye opening.)
Sure, telling people in my business that I went to Syracuse University is a great start to the conversation but quickly, things like my experience, awards, references and credentials become more important than the campus I called home for four years. And above all of that, how hard I work and what I’m able to get done make or break my progress.
Experience Trumps Education (Sort Of)
Parents everywhere would kill me if I said that college is not about education — but just like in life, it’s about immersion in a community. I learned so much about myself from 1998-2002. I discovered how well (or not!) I handle stress and deadlines, what personalities I mesh and clash with, what really ignites my passion, what it means to budget and more.
I could have gone to any school and had a fulfilling experience. And that’s because I jumped into the culture — playing sports, taking varied classes, traveling and more.
It Matters Who You Surround Yourself With
My maid of honor was the girl who lived across the hall in my freshman dorm (and went on to be one of my BFFs). The girl next to me in broadcast journalism class is, to this day, one of my best confidantes and friends. The kid down the hall of my sophomore dorm is now my husband.
There were lots of people that touched my life in my college years — roommates, classmates, professors and more. Not all are still a part of my life. But I think that making smart choices about the people you share secrets with, lean on in tough times, study with and more will lead to longer, happier and more fulfilling relationships for life.
It’s OK to Play the Field
While I think this statement actually does hold true with relationships, I actually mean that it’s OK to play the field with learning. Some of the best classes I took in college were far from my major — golf, yoga, Shakespeare in Film, wine appreciation — and it helped me discover some hobbies and passions that I still enjoy today.
Honestly, had I not taken part in a policy studies challenge the summer before college, I might not have taken any of those classes my freshman year. I was so fascinated by statistics, sociology and policy that I ended up graduating with two majors.
There is No “Too Late”
This is something that my current career helps me understand even more than I did as a 22-year-old. It is NEVER too late to make a change, whether it’s to a new job or industry, or in a relationship, or in health and wellness. There’s no need to be unhappy or unfulfilled…because there’s always a way out.
What did you learn in college that holds true today?