In college, it’s easy to get caught up in grades and papers, but the whole point is to be prepared for life after college. Here are ten skills for Confidence, Connection, and Comfort both in and after, College.
Practice Meeting People
Meeting people with confidence puts us in control and give us new opportunities.
How we meet people impacts how easily we form friendships, get noticed at work, and make a memorable first impression with a love interest. Everyone we know and will know, we’ve had to meet. Whether it’s a job interview or a date, we’re going to need to be practiced at meeting people.
In college, we’re surrounded by peers, professors, and staff in a learning environment, which makes it easy to ask about what subjects people enjoy and what they enjoy doing with their education. Those common threads make conversations easy to pick up and practice.
In Conversation, Look for Shared Interest
We’ll be interesting to others if we show interest in them.
No one likes small talk because it’s impersonal and doesn’t make an attempt to learn about us as a person. Even if we never see this person again, if we can make them feel valued we can make an impact on them. A good question to ask ourselves is “What can we learn from this person?”
Starting a new conversation is about using our curiosity to find their passion. Often we worry about being entertaining, but what people really enjoy is when we take an honest interest in them. Sharing how we relate to what they share builds a sense of trust and comfort as we offer up pieces of ourselves as we learn about each other.
Invest in the People that Invest in Us
An effective support network to reduce stress supports each other. Otherwise, we end up feeling alone in a group.
Give to people that give to us. Support the people that support us. Respect those that respect us. Those that give good things value good things, and they will value when we make an effort for them. Sometimes we have to start this process by giving first while avoiding a one-sided exchange.
The shared value in each other is what makes lasting relationships, so find the people that are willing to give and not just take. Relationships become much easier when we communicate our desires, needs, and the appreciation we have for each other. Healthy relationships are a shared source of support and comfort for both parties.
The quickest way to get help is to find it before we need it.
There are many resources that are unique to college that are either free or covered by tuition. Learning about those services, how to find them, and what they can do, is an important lesson as well. Beyond the college services, there are helpful people and off-campus resources to look for as well. After college, there will be plenty of services we’ll need to find and make use of.
In my own college career, I became very familiar with the counseling center, which was covered by my tuition. Even if we don’t make use of some of the services, being aware of them allows us to point out these services to people in need and increases our ability to help others. Appreciating these resources helps make sure they remain to help those that come after us as well.
Enjoy the New Experiences
New Experiences can’t be prevented, so being ready to tackle them is a far less stressful position to be in than dreading them.
College offers many opportunities that we might not otherwise be able to experience. I took the opportunity to take classes on Archery, Social Dance, and Snowboarding because I had the interest. I was even able to get my Social Dance class to count for part of my arts credit.
Finding classes that interest us and fulfill requirements is a good “two birds with one stone” solution. Clubs and extracurricular activities are also good options and have the added bonus of providing a common topic to start conversations with. Not to mention the chance to learn about our own interests.
Learn and Understand Self
Nothing is more important than being able to connect with ourselves and the people around us.
Everyone is unique, but that means we have to learn about ourselves. For example, proper time management takes an understanding of how we operate and working to our strengths while avoiding our weaknesses. We can’t assume we operate the same way as someone else. Being able to not only understand our unique needs but also how to meet them, allows us to be more capable.
The most important questions are the questions we ask ourselves because those are the ones that can haunt us. We need support for these questions whether it’s personal or professional support. Borrowing from the experience of others is a great way to improve our problem-solving ability. The trust and appreciation we share by asking for help builds a connection with the people around us.
Develop Skills for After College
College is a means, not a destination. The destination comes after college.
College itself is a challenge, but it’s about developing the skills and resources needed for after college. Meeting People, for example, will impact not only building new friendships but how we appear in job interviews and romancing love interests. Connecting the dots to “after college” will make a deeper impact and give a focus to where we want to take our education.
While academic skills are the primary focus of college, we can’t neglect our practical skills. Pushing our boundaries is relatively safe at college and there’s plenty of opportunities to do so. While working on a degree, don’t forget the everyday skills that make a direct impact on how we live our lives.
Don’t Let a Bad Experience Stop Our Progress
Mistakes will happen. It’s better to learn to recover from them than wish they wouldn’t happen.
It’s easy to get caught up in the anxiety of making a mistake, but becoming more comfortable with accepting mistakes and moving on from them is an invaluable life skill. For some examples, watching live recorded video or podcasts can teach us how to recover from mistakes.
It’s easy to get tied up in the material, but when we pay attention we can see the mistakes that are made and how the speakers recover from them. It’s not that they don’t make mistakes, but that they’re prepared to recover from them. Not only have they practiced the material, but they’ve practiced mistakes and recovering from them.
Balancing Our Standards Against Other People’s Standards
It’s not us vs. them. It’s learning to balance and share.
The biggest struggle at college is balancing our standards with other people’s standards. Appreciating other people’s standards and values is great, but we must understand that our own standards and values are just as important, but will only come into play when we’re able to voice them.
I’ve always been good at listening to the values and standards of others, but much of my own college experience was learning where I stood with my own standards and values. The most challenging step, for me, was learning how to voice them. No one can act on our standards and values if we don’t voice them.
Find the Value of College
Finding what we value about college helps us find our focus.
What I consider to be the most important advice is to find what we value in our college experience that reaches beyond those college years and keeps us from feeling regret. Enjoying college is part of getting through college and reducing stress. Finding friends, resources, and skills that we value is just as important as meeting requirements for our degree.
For some, that means grades need to be the focus in order to move forward, but grades themselves have a limited impact after college. Finding passion, forging skills, and making connections are skills that impact us from this moment on. The goal of college is to become more skilled, knowledgeable, and capable at life.
This is a lot to take in, but there’s a lot more to discuss. I’m always expanding the free resources on my website as well as offering Life Coaching sessions. If you have questions or comments I look forward to hearing them. Sign up for a free session with a listener today and learn what I can do to support you.