The 9 Skills You’ll Actually Learn In College


In between the keg stands, Jello shots and games of flip cup, college is meant to be a time of learning, right? Hitting the books, having philosophical arguments with a professor, debates over dining hall meals, late nights in the library, term papers and maybe even a senior thesis — it all sounds so romantic on paper, like a helicopter parent’s wet dream.

But as any true college student knows, the real learning happens not in the classroom, but well outside the halls of academia: at house parties, your dorm room, the local college bar. And let’s be real, even if you can never bring up that epic rager from junior year in an interview, the skills that went into throwing it translate incredibly well to the real world. Here’s what every college student learns when they put away the textbooks and bust out their party shoes:

1. Budgeting

College students LOVE to talk about how poor they are, usually while wearing a North Face jacket or Sperry shoes. Obviously, there is a big difference between being “college poor” and “real world poor”, but that doesn’t mean the average beer-swilling college student doesn’t learn how to better handle their money over the course of their four years at school. Usually it involves getting the most bang for their buck, or in college speak, getting as much alcohol as possible while spending as little money as you can. Honestly, the American government could learn a thing or two from college students who learn how to have a night that rivals “The Hangover” for less than a 20-dollar bill.

2. Resource management

Every college student’s worse nightmare is showing up to a party and there being no more alcohol. After all, how much fun can you REALLY have sober? But even worse than showing up to a party that is drier than a Mormon baptism is being the host who is throwing the party that runs out of alcohol. Not only do you come across as a cheapskate, but you also run the risk of scaring away people from any future parties you may hold. Providing booze, mixers, cups, etc. and getting a socially acceptable group of people to come to your event is no small feat. While you can’t put it on your resume, throwing a successful party in college is a commendable achievement that bodes well for your future career.

3. Hand-eye coordination

Because beer pong, duh.

4. How to work under pressure

One night during the week of finals my senior year, I decided to be proactive and double check with my friend that a paper and an exam were still two days away. Turned out I made a big boo-boo, as the test and the paper were actually the next day. I buckled down, pounded out the paper and studied as hard as I could, and ended up passing the class with plenty of room to spare. Everyone has their own story about how they barely submitted a paper or project on time. Not only do you learn a valuable lesson in planning ahead (hopefully the same mistake is never made again) but you also prove to yourself that when the game is on the line, you’ve got the guts to pull off the big shot — or write a research paper on Early Renaissance Frescoes in the Vatican Palace in just three hours, as was my case.

5. Communication skills

The fact of the matter, the power of conversation gets you places. It’s why someone with a less polished resume can land a job over a better-qualified candidate, and the guy with slick game can land a girl way out of his league. This is the type of skill that you won’t develop in the classroom (except when you’re trying to sweet talk your professor to granting an extension on a paper or bumping up your grade). But be it over a beer at a tailgate or flirting with a bartender to get their attention, developing your communication skills — admittedly a very loose term — is a critical accomplishment during your college years.

6. Learning from your mistakes

When you gather thousands of 20 year olds in an enclosed space, mix in alcohol and a newfound sense of freedom, crazy stuff is bound to happen. That being said, college affords you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes, a critical skill in the real world. Sometimes you take one tequila shot too many or don’t study hard enough for a test. Luckily, there is always going to be another night on the town or exam for you to prove you have matured — at least until graduation rolls around. Use this opportunity to push the limits, while also discovering your boundaries.

7. Cooperation

One of the great things about college is you’re going to meet an assortment of personalities more diverse than the Village People during your time on campus. But if there is one thing I’ve learned as a history major, it’s that when you mix a lot of different people together, conflict is bound to happen. While you need to stick up for yourself at times, life is a lot easier when you swallow your pride and just try and get along with people. You don’t have to make friendship bracelets and braid their hair at the end of the day, but life is so much easier when you merely attempt to be civil with people.

8. Time management

Pretty simple: The goal of every college student is to start studying/writing their paper/working on a project at the latest possible time that still allows them to complete said assignment while also receiving an acceptable grade.

9. Common sense

Otherwise known as street smarts, this is another skill that you can’t learn from any textbook. You just have to go out and learn on your own. For the first time in most college students’ lives, they are living alone, away from home, spreading their proverbial wings and learning to fly. Sure, there will be epic mistakes — usually paid for with a wicked hangover — but you move on and grow from these experiences, developing better judgment along the way.