As of this week I officially walked at graduation (even though my degree was conferred last year) and thus have wiped my hands of NYU. That being said, I figured it may be time to have a “Lessons Learned in College” post. I emphasize not the shit I learned in the classroom (thats what you pay the scrilla for, right?), but the non-academic lessons that are equally, if not, more important than your book skillz.
How to Deal 101: Things happen for a reason.
I’m generally a person who goes with the flow. I’ve found that if you look at your life from an outside perspective, its much easier to roll with the punches. I thought the first University I attended would be my dream school … and for all intents and purposes, it would be anyone’s dream school. However, winter break of my freshman year I decided, against the advice of my parents, that I would transfer to NYU. At NYU – which is a lot of people’s dream school, as well as a lot of peoples version of bureaucratic hell – I really developed as an individual and was opened to so many more opportunities than were available to me my freshman year. Transferring was a setback, definitely, but hey, things work out. So maybe your graduation date got delayed, or your advisor is putting you through hell, or your academic requirements and grades aren’t up to par … throw a que sera, sera, at it and make the best of it – because it’s all you can do baby girl.
I did this a lot, sadly, in both the professional and social realms. At the time being an asshole sounds like a good idea, however, you learn later that it will come back and haunt you and bite you dead on in the ass. Connections are important to have, ixnaying a node on your network can be a big mistake in the long run. At the same time, don’t be afraid to walk away from relationships / connections that don’t provide you anything of substance, or do not benefit you. It’s a give AND take world. I’m a firm believer in getting out what you’re putting in.
Sales and Marketing: You are your own (and best) advocate.
Going to NYU had its benefits and drawbacks. Unfortunately with a student enrollment rounding out about 40,000, you end up with a lot of bureaucratic nonsense and a lot of work having to navigate the system – as anyone in any large school can attest to. It’s a pain in the ass. You eventually learn how to make connections and make yourself noticed so you can stick out from the bajillion students around you. You learn how to get in front of your TAs, professors, advisors, administrators… so you can get what you want. Guess what? You have to keep doing this in the real world. Looking for a job? Trying to catch a handsome honey’s eye? You have to find a way to get out in front and make yourself noticed. This is imperative. No one’s going to hold your hand and kiss your ass through the real world… you gotta do that on your own. I literally mean that you have to kiss your ass in the real world. Because seriously, no one else is there to do it. Sell the shit out of yourself.
This goes hand in hand with being your best advocate, but you also have to be annoying as hell about it too. Like, you literally have to be like hey look at me! Me! ME ME ME! NOTICE ME! But actually. Whether you have to be a coldhearted bitch to get what you want (this always works for me), or just be a persistent son of a gun, you’re bound to get lost in the sea of college kids / grads so make yourself known and be a pesky sonofabitch… its okay.
Anthropology: People are f%#&ing weird. Embrace it.
One of my NYU roommates was a dominatrix. Which initially was weird. To anyone on the outside they too would think it was incredibly weird. It wasn’t until I realized she found a savvy way to put her way through college and graduate without debt. Beneath the leather, latex etc. she was a sweet and savvy girl. She was weird no doubt, but once you embrace that, you get it. I’ve met people from all walks of life who are just fucking weird. But once you get over that fact, you get it, and you see the beauty in it. For godssake, I’m a weirdo — I expect people to just deal with it. You should do the same.
Extracurriculars: Get some kind of job.
I sound like a mother / aunt telling people to get a job, but that’s not my aim. Whether or not you need the money / school credit / experience, I fully support getting any type of job while going to school, be it a full/part time, retail, internship, manual labor (i dont know). I worked at least one internship and a retail job every year in college and I think it really helped me develop a great set of skills and a sense of responsibility. I was always held accountable to someone when I was working (which I’m still working on), which has helped me in a real person job. Also, added bonus for getting a retail job. I worked two retail jobs for a combined year (or less), and that’s about when I learned my tolerance for dumb people.
Enough with the sentimental bullshit, right?! Seriously though. Sure, a lot of my classes I took for my major/minor were really interesting and the professors were inspiring. However, the classes I really got into and fully enjoyed were classes about Gender Politics, a topic I find really interesting. My last semester at NYU I took 20 credits alongside a graduate course in Gender and Law, which all together was a nightmare, but I loved the topic and professor so much that I absolutely had to and learned so much from it. I don’t care if it takes you an extra year to graduate – but travel abroad, take the classes you want, take your time on your major… do what you’re passionate about! Because after college, what is there? THE REAL FUCKING WORLD.
How to Fail 101: Embrace failure gracefully.
Remember that bullshit we continually hear about climbing the corporate ladder / working for the “dream”? No. You will inevitably fall off of that fucking ladder and straight on to your face, maybe once, maybe even twice, maybe even continuously. But as Janet Yellen so eloquently (and so adorably) elaborated on failure during NYU’s 2014 commencement at Yankee Stadium, you will not succeed every single time. It seems the sooner you accept that and take your failures in stride, the happier you will find yourself.