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Life Lessons You Learned In College in 2024

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Four college students walking and smiling

The year, 2023 is finally over, the new year has been rung in and with it, the most abnormal semesters are, hopefully, in the past. Almost every college student can let out a collective exhale of relief from the anxiety of this past year. But through all the challenges we faced, we also learned many life lessons.

Zoom became the college student’s new reality for most or all of their classes this past year, and in particular cases, for the foreseeable future. And even with the COVID-19 vaccines being distributed, college students continue to adapt to life lessons you learn in college.

Unsure decisions and stress around time management with more free time cause challenges in adjusting to online courses. But it’s not just students; professors who are at risk must continue to teach remotely, along with their students. One thing is for sure: this past year forever changed the dynamics of the purpose of a college education.

Everyone faced their own challenges as a result of normal in-person courses moving to online classes. I was definitely one of those people that always had technological difficulties in my three semesters studying almost completely online, in addition to other students I know. But of course, for every student, there were new major life changes, especially in how they dealt with time management.

A fellow student at my own university shared her experience with doing online courses this semester. Her quote has a lot of meaning as isolation and stay-at-home orders became an irritant for many students. 

“I had to focus on self-discipline and making sure I split my time up for each class. I also appreciated group messages a lot more, it was a good way to be held accountable.”

For me and several of my other classmates, a large-scale dilemma was facing the obvious risks versus benefits of being in in-person classes during this last semester. Having to go back and be in a place that wasn’t behind a screen after eight months was beyond strange. However, because of the conditions and new reality, it felt like I was able to give myself a lot less pressure.

Knowing there was nothing perfect about the infrastructure of these classes, and that they are oftentimes improvised, I had to just remind myself that I handled months of being afraid to even breathe the air outside, and handling coursework wasn’t that deep. So turning in assignments or taking breaks was okay throughout this semester, because both I and my professors were in new territory. 

College student leaning on a stack of books on the table.

Prior to March, everything had to be done to others’ expectations, which was a rather harsh and tiresome use of my energy. After this last semester, there was time for me to catch my breath, especially seeing that professors can become just as low and frantic as us students, despite their constant pestering to achieve the ‘perfect standard’ they expect college students to be at.

For me, that was enough to stop wanting to be perfect, because they weren’t going to see my work that way, let alone being someone who needed to figure out what fit their rules. And classwork for my major had begun to dwindle, interest- and creativity-wise, so I just didn’t have much inspiration. Being at home almost full-time gave me back that mentality of learning without having to be perfect.  

“There are far better things ahead of us than anything we leave behind.” 

This quote by author C.S. Lewis was a constant reminder for me to enjoy the ride of progressing, and that not every detail has to be figured out at the moment, because it causes stress, and limits new ideas. If anything, imperfection after these last few semesters is obvious and shows that our current learning system is flawed but necessary, especially within higher education. It’s okay to not be sure every minute about things being perfect for college students.

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