I wrote a popular post awhile back on how to be cool in college. (yes it’s that simple). In that post, I also included some myths about being cool in college. But really quickly, for the kids in college, I want to give you the myths about college in general.
Everyone that decides to go to college has some misconception about how awesome it’s going to be and how much fun you’ll have. You say goodbye to your high school friends and your parents and you’re on your own for the first time in your life.
But then you realize college isn’t exactly everything you dreamed of.
- You may be lonely
- You might get homesick
- You might make new friends that you end up hating
- You might join a Fraternity you end up regretting
- You might fall in love
- You might get your heartbroken
- You might make some poor decisions
- You might get good grades
- You might try things for the first time
- And you may wonder if going to college was the right decision
Here’s the thing about college that everyone should know.
College is not a four year vacation. It actually costs a lot of money. Most kids don’t realize this because their parents take out student loans for them.
College is not one big party. If you’re in college, then you know what I’m talking about. Sure, you move out of your parents house and now you’re living on campus or on your own. But you’re not surrounded by drugs, alcohol and sex all day long. There’s lectures, office hours, homework, quizzes and exams.
College is no longer a guarantee to anything. Maybe back in the day when your parents were going to school, college meant opportunity. That’s no longer the case. No matter what college you go to, you are not guaranteed an internship, a job after you graduate, or even an income. Hell, college doesn’t even guarantee you a good time, sex, a girlfriend or boyfriend, or that you’ll learn anything.
What College Really Is
College is an opportunity for you to grow and learn. But it’s up to you to do that.
You’re not a child when you go to college, although you might act and look like one still. You’re an adult and no one is there to hold your hand and make sure you get what you want out of college.
College is what you make of it.
It took me a masters degree and over 100K in student loans to realize that college is your opportunity but also a business.
What I mean by “college is a business” is that the professors, the career counselors, the librarians are there because it’s is their job. Maybe some of them want to be there. But the majority of them are there to collect a pay check just like you will in your jobs. They will help you to an extent but their priority is to make sure they can provide for themselves and their family, not to make sure you become a successful graduate.
Career centers don’t care about you. They care about their statistics. They want you to get a job. Any job. Not your dream job. So they can say they got you a job. Most college career counselors have never even had the job you want. So how do you expect them to tell you exactly how to get that job?
RA’s (resident advisors) don’t care if you don’t have fun. They applied to be an RA so they could get free housing and get paid.
Professor’s don’t care if you learn or don’t learn the material in the class. They care more about their research and getting published. They don’t stop a lecture just for you if you don’t understand something. Do you think a professor thinks he failed if a student gets a B or a C or a D or doesn’t pass his/her course?
I could go on and on with examples about how college is a business and the only person that cares about your individual success is you and only you. But I won’t. I hope you get the idea.
Instead I want to talk about how you can make the most of your college experience so that it is what you want it to be.
How To Make College Worth It
First, if you’re going to go to college, you should definitely try to be cool. Because being cool makes everything better.
- This means dressing the part.
- This means making friends.
- And perhaps joining a fraternity.
- Study so you don’t use being dumb as an excuse
- And a bunch of other stuff…just check out this post
Second, you need to make opportunities for yourself. Don’t wait for people to make opportunities for you.
Whenever I help someone with their career, I ask how have you been looking for a job? Most people respond, “I’ve just been applying to jobs online.” Dumb.
We’re alpha here. Not beta.
Applying to jobs is essentially the same as throwing your resume in the garbage can.
You need to learn how to network. And sadly college does not teach you how to network. How sad is that? One of the most important skills that you’ll ever need to learn is how to build strong relationships and your network and college doesn’t teach you how to do that.
So How Do You Network?
For the longest time I’ve contemplated putting up a network section on the Alpha site because it only makes sense. You don’t get ahead on your own.
But I’ve always wondered if networking really was a topic guys that wanted to be alpha wanted to learn about. I guess I’m still debating that one.
Here’s the run down of networking right.
- Don’t be a business card collector.
- Get to know people. Like really get to know them.
- Get personal with people.
- Talk about things you’re passionate about.
- Listen to what other people are passionate about.
- Make people feel good and feel important.
- Realize that it is not just the person you want to connect with that is important but their assistant, their friends, their family…all these insiders can be the key to getting you in with someone.
- People want to help people that are or want to be successful.
- Follow-up or die (in the sense that your network can not survive if you do not keep in touch).
- Be a value GIVER and not a value TAKER. You will be paid back handsomely.
- Don’t be a bullsh*tter and try to kiss up.
The Reality of College
In someways, I believe college is a waste of money. But don’t kick yourself for going to college if you’re there. Hear me out.
When you’re 18 years old, do you really know what you want to study or be for the rest of your life? I’ve changed careers three times now and I still don’t know what I really want to be when I “grow” up.
You can have a really good time in college but you’ll learn very little that will prepare you for the real world. A professor I did research for as an undergrad once told me “College just teaches you how to learn.” Well hell, I wish someone would have told me that before I took out these student loans!
You’ll make some really good friends in college. But then you’ll graduate and slowly your friends will drift away. You’ll make new friends at work or through other social settings. People will get married and have families and you’ll see your friends less and less. So you may have some really good memories from college but you could have also saved a lot of money and traveled the world or started a business or learned something you really wanted to learn rather than take a bunch of general education courses you will never need.
College gives you time to figure things out. The one good thing about college is you buy yourself some time. You can change majors. You can talk to your peers about your hopes and dreams. You can experiment (in more ways than one). College gives you an excuse to stay young and immature for a little while longer (Spring breaks, hangovers, late nights, all nighters). It’s not a complete waste.
So In The End…
This post probably went on longer than it needed to. But I needed to drive one point home. Whether you’re in college today or a graduate from 20 years ago. Your network is your net worth.
College doesn’t build the one skill you need to meeting more people, to opening more doors, to getting more business. It doesn’t teach you how to network.
And you must know how to network.
As an alpha male, you should have a rolodex that you can rely on for almost any thing. Be the guy that connects people.
College doesn’t teach you how to be successful. It doesn’t teach you how to be rich. It doesn’t teach you how to be alpha.
That’s what we’re here for 🙂 Alpha U.
Be Bold. Be Alpha.