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Home Centennial College Blog 2014 October 23 Unusual lessons you’ll need when becoming a college student

Unusual Lessons You'll Need When Becoming a College Student

Centennial College Students studying at the Progress Campus Library

If you’re leaving high school and entering college, you already know there’s going to be a change and have a notion of what it is. Or maybe you’re coming from university and think you already have the post-secondary thing figured out. Well, you’d both be wrong. You see, college is a little bit different from most other forms of education. Centennial College is focused on getting you out of your seat and working on the career you want to have before you even graduate. As a result, some of the rules you know or think you know about your educational experience may need some adjustment, too. Here are four things you’ll need to know before you take the community college plunge:

1) Coming to class is important, but it isn’t a guaranteed pass

You already know that you need to come to class. What you don’t know is that simply showing up isn’t a guarantee of a passing grade. Even if you know your readings, have your textbooks and complete your assignments on time, there are still things you’ll miss. A good college course is about doing, and an instructor will give you hands-on experience, addressing your own academic weaknesses. Plus, an instructor that can put a face to a name is a professional contact, and someone that can give you help in times of trouble.

But that’s a two-way street. Work and class go hand in hand; simply sitting in a lecture hall attempting to absorb the material benefits nobody. You need to be willing to be actively involved. Learning is a contact sport. Otherwise, not only will you not grasp the material, non-participation won’t grant you true life skills – which is what you’re there for.

2) It isn’t all about the exam, but you still need to pass it

To reiterate, career-making skills are the point of college. Job skills, life skills, practical training, useful things like that. It’s not about what you learn in a lecture, or out of a textbook, but what you can accomplish once you roll up your sleeves. To that end, your focus should be on what abilities you can take from the program, not rote-memorizing for a midterm or final.

But that doesn’t mean you can just blow them off. The point of the class is what you learn, and the point of an exam is supposed to be to check whether you learned those things. And the point of a diploma, which you’ll get for passing your exams, is that you can prove to an employer that you have the skills the school trained you in.

3) You’ll be doing topics you aren’t keen on, but you should still do them

Even when you’re pursuing your dream career at college, you’ll inevitably find yourself having to take at least one college course you’re not keen on, or think you won’t need in the future you’ve envisioned for yourself. Never assume that, and try to learn that subject as solidly as you learn the things you’re passionate about. After all, do you not like it because you’re not good at it? That’s even more reason to continue to work hard at it.

If you’re taking a course you’re not into, and it’s a part of a program you are into, then that means it’s something you’ll probably need to know in your future career. You might not think you need it now, but it’s entirely possible that it will be the key to your own success later on, and when that happens, you’ll be grateful you didn’t phone it in.

4) You’ll need to manage your time carefully, and be ready to cut things out

Sooner or later, you will find yourself strapped for time. Everyone learns differently, works differently and studies differently. It’s hard to say how much time you’ll really need to study and work on a course. Don’t panic, though.

All you have to do is make sure you’re prepared. Make a schedule for where and when you’ll work, where and when you’ll study, and move heaven and earth to stick to it. But it’s entirely possible, due to the unpredictability of life, that it won’t go according to plan. When that happens, you need to be able to take a good, hard look at what you can cut out.

We all need time off, but should you really be spending the evening having a night out with your friends when you have three assignments due the following week? Maybe complete those first, and then socialize. Or, if you’re working, see if you can cut down on your hours. This is where About.com would explain that a sense of priority comes in handy, too. Know what you’ll cut out in advance, if you have to, to save you the agony of the decision.

But maybe you can’t reduce your work hours, or genuinely have pressing life responsibilities you can’t cut out to make room for school. If that’s the case, you can always flip the script in the other direction: If life is genuinely too busy, you can always take a reduced course load, evening classes, or even distance learning, and make time for the rest of your life. If it takes you longer to graduate, well, it’s better to enter the workforce with an uncompromised learning experience, even if that takes time.

Pulling it off successfully will teach you something extremely valuable for the rest of your career: Work/life balance, defined as knowing when to get your work done, and when to have a life. Time management is a lifelong skill, and if you can walk away from college with it, you’ll be infinitely more prepared for whatever challenges life may throw at your calendar. 

By Anthony Geremia