Lessons College Never Taught Me…

It’s hard for me to believe that college is starting soon again.  It seemed like just yesterday that my friends were done with the semester and coming home for the summer.  Now people are going back to college or even starting their freshman year!  I remember each trip my parents took with me to college.  Each 700 mile drive was unique in some sort of weird and awkward way.

I learned a lot about myself during college (both mentally and physically).  The most important lesson I learned however,had nothing to do with courses.  I learned about myself as a person.

I’ve written about my definition of success and happiness several times.  I’ve also written about struggling post college several times.  When I was in college, I thought one I graduated, I would easily get a job in my field, work and then I would be successful.  I did my college time and now the reward (a job) would flock to me.  It’s partially true that I interned then worked in my field at SUNY Oswego.  I loved it and truly enjoyed my time there in the public health field. I learned even more about myself, my field (public health) as well as my personal relationship with Tim.

In the late spring of 2013, I had an important decision to make.  A decision college doesn’t really prepare you for.

Do I move and get out of Upstate NY? 

I was dating at the time, and a long distance relationship won’t work forever.  He was finishing his training so it made sense for me to move down there.  Being in the military, Tim will never have flexibility to move where he wants.  It was either I move or we continue having a long distance relationship.

I chose to move.  In the fall of 2013 I moved and found myself unemployed with no job leads.  People asked me all summer my job plans and I said I have no idea, live off savings and find one.

Being unemployed came just one year after spending four years trudging through gail force -30 degree winds to class.  It came six months after digging my car out of snow banks for work.

I stayed unemployed from September until around March.  During that time we found out we were moving to New Jersey.  We had one of the roughest winters on the east coast and southern states weren’t prepared to plow (I felt like I never left upstate!)  I hit the job market at the worst time since businesses weren’t hiring.  The last thing they wanted (or needed) to do was hire for their closed business.  I ate away at about 75% of my savings that I saved the previous year working.   College never taught me about budgeting or savings…but I thank my parents often that they did.

I applied for jobs everywhere and in every field.  Quite frankly living in Del Rio Texas, a job was not going to happen.  I lived there six weeks but almost a year later (read: last Tuesday) I finally found a job in my field that I remotely qualified for.  (After getting dozens of emails to be road kill collector…I don’t know why I’m still on public health job list…or why collecting road kill requires a public health degree…).  I would have most definitely had to do something outside my college degree if I had lived there…which is fine but not anything college prepared me for.

So when we moved to NJ, I was more than happy..  So many opportunities that aren’t road kill collectors!  I probably applied to close to 30 jobs.  (I filled out about 100 job applications).  I applied for multiple public health jobs, running store jobs, even a substitute teacher (as I spent 3 years with a double math/education major).  I was bored being at home and financially it wasn’t going to work out well if I was going to stay unemployed for another year.

As good as my first year out of college was (job wise), my second year was as bad. That was something I was not prepared for.  The only thing that would have really prepared me would be living through this situation.

So when I got a call that they would have room for me at a local running store, I jumped on it.  After 8 months of doing nothing, it was a nice change.  Now working there about 6 months, I can say I fully enjoy it.  While college taught me how to solve derivatives at the drop of a pin, it didn’t teach me that I was also growing as a human.  I was learning how to educate people in health awareness but I was also growing and needed to experience these lessons for myself.  I wish college taught me that it’s okay not to do anything in your major as long as you are successful financially, mentally and physically.  If you can say all of those things as well as you are happy with your life, then college has taught you well. 

I regret nothing about my education, my post college life and where I’m at right now.  I’m enjoying my life, financially stable and successful both mentally and physically.  None of those things are anything I took a college course for but at the same time needed college for.

Questions for you:

What is one thing you wish college had taught you?

What has been your favorite job?