4 Things College Taught Gen Y that we Must UnLearnPosted on June 20th, 2012
I paid — God I don’t want to admit or look at my remaining tab (Sallie Mae I will free myself from your chains someday) — for a college degree that taught me how to UnSucceed.
Let me explain.
Now on my tail-end-of-20, do I think the education was worth it?
Yeah, I still do.
But it took me a few years (somewhere between four years and today) of UnSuccess to begin to UnLearn the bad habits college and I learned together.
1. People are NOT Here to Teach Us
I remember sitting in my cubicle during the first week of my first job. Binders piled high around me like I was running a science experiment.
With no clue what I was supposed to do next, I kept waiting for someone to tell me when finally I received instruction from my boss.
Figure it out.
That was it.
I kept waiting for someone to show me how. I didn’t realize they expected me to show myself.
I didn’t really understand that for years I’d being paying my professors a big wad of cash. Sure, I didn’t give professors a handshake like a mobster paying off a politician. But I was paying big money to sit there and be taught — all those classes ditched for a nap or volleyball enough now to pay for two months rent.
Of course I didn’t appreciate it at the time. Of course I didn’t realize how rare it is to have a professional in your field dispensing wisdom like a gum ball machine.
In the working world, very rarely is someone waiting there to show us how.
We’re not paying them any longer. They’re paying us.
2. Live Hard, Be Stupid
Eating fourths in the cafeteria, followed by a sundae and two bowls of Berry Captain Crunch.
Drinking until 2 am, then skipping your next two mornings.
Losing a bet with friends, thus walking around downtown on a busy night holding a tin can while wearing a big, cardboard sign that said: I have Gonorhhea. Any Money Helps.
Yeah I had my fair share of stupid in college.
Things is, the cubicle is an unrelenting task-master ready to turn stupid into a sinkhole.
Professors rarely kick you out. Bosses have no problem.
Let’s grab life by the ears and snarl at it. Let’s just stop snarling at stupid in the process.
3. The Procrastinate and Push
College taught me to operate like a sprinter. Push hard. Take long breaks.
I knew if I could just put a semester’s worth of focus into 14 days leading up to finals, then summer break would be there before I could say B +. Then all the studying, learning, and routine went out of my Honda Civic’s window as I drove back to Colorado from California — a whole new reality awaiting me.
After college, as I sat surrounded by rainy-day gray cubicle half-walls, I got beat over the head with the slow, steady, comfortable, monotony of each cascading day that greatly resembled the last. The ability to stay consistent king above all. Summer break no longer waiting there to offer a reset.
4. Feedback is NOT Our Enemy
I hated that moment in class when the professor passed back my big twenty-five page research paper with the worst thing imaginable cascading down the side of the front page.
Red. Marks. Every-freaking-where.
Often times I’d shove that paper in my backpack and never read one single word of feedback. I hated being told what they thought I did wrong. Ignorance, my stupid bliss.
Today, feedback is gold. I crave it. (Well, when I’m not whispering mean things about their mother in my head).
For someone to go out of there way and give their advice on how I can make something better — yeah we should be sending that person a Cookie-Gram, not muttering things about their large nose under our breathe.
College taught us much, but it might be the things we must UnLearn that our generation’s success depends on.
What did college teach you that we must UnLearn?
Photo Credit: Cindi Ann — Creative Commons