Here's what I think I learned in college beyond the classroom. I've been adding to this list when I remember or learn something.

Quick disclaimer: some of the items on this list are cheesy, but that's what life has thrown at me.

Another quick disclaimer: Many items on this list are based not only on the experience I had, but also on how I interpreted the situation. That is, a lot of stuff come into play including personality traits, beliefs/values, what was happening in my life at the time. As a result, I suspect that many items might not resonate well with people who have a very different set of background factors.

  1. Take every advice with a grain of salt. I meant to put this point first because what's coming next is also advice so even that, take with a grain of salt. Because, here's the thing, when a person tells you something there is a million factors that interplayed leading to them saying that. For example, if I come and tell you, my advice to you is: don't be too humble and make sure you show off your work. If you trace back all the factors that led to me saying that you'd find that my personality plays a big factor (for example, I'm an underconfident person who never takes any pride in their work and who also happens to feel like an impostor 88% of the time). My past experience also plays a factor (for example, I had an incident where not applying this advice led to problems). There's also my upbringing and culture also play a factor. So do my interactions (maybe I was surrounded by a bunch of overconfident kids which led to me feeling obliged to act overconfident). There's a million more factors that I can think of that would lead to me giving this advice (note that all these examples might or might not be hypothetical :p). So, my point is, when someone gives you a piece of advice - which is something you're going to get A LOT in uni - no matter who that person is, who much senior they are to you, or how much you trust their judgement, think about their advice and see how much of it fits YOUR situation and YOUR prespective. Because guess what, no matter how understanding and compassionate people are, everyone still sees life from their own presepctive, so there's always a chance that what people see or say doesn't match what you're living through. It's even possible to ask the person for more personalized advice if you want. Going back to the example of the "be overconfident" advice. One might think about this and ask me: "are you saying this because at some point you were very insecure?" To which I'm going to answer "yes", then that person would know that, well since I never struggled with that, maybe me being overconfident would lead to me being arrogant while in her case, she just needed a boost of confidence. My point is, just think about any advice both on the personal and professional level, try to understand where people are coming from, and see where do you fit.
  2. Keep track of why you're doing what you're doing. It is very easy to lose track, and life sucks when you do. I lost track, and this drove me to a very low time in my life. I didn't know why I'm studying, what's the point of what I'm doing - we're all dying soon anyways, right? I think losing track of why're doing what you're doing or not having formalized a clear vision of that in the first place can in many cases lead to a burnout. So, every now and then, take some time alone, and think about what you're doing and what impact does this have on the long run and whether that is what you want or not. For me, I personally have a very clear vision of a high level goal, but it's extremely high level and intangible that I can't see any point of what I do in my day to day life or how I go about my day to day homeworks and classes, so that has probably been the reason why I had so many hurdles over the course of my four years at uni. If there's one thing I would change, it would be to put together a clear vision of why I'm doing what I'm doing before I start embarking upon the journey. But the good news is, it's never too late to fix that :).
  3. Put in the effort to check on people. It's extremely easy, in university, to feel like you're the center of this world. It's all about your deadlines, your exams, your grades, the things your professor told you, and the plans you discussed with your advisor. And, this is very natural since, at the end of the day, it's your life and it has to revolve around you. But, having said that, it is important to realize that all the other people around you, they have their own lives and their own struggles. Sometimes, I just wish someone can ask me how I actuall feel because I'm not feeling well. Sometimes it's fascinating how much better a person feels when someone actually listens to them talking about how they feel. I remember once I was walking to class, and I was feeling miserable, and a girl I know but I'm not very close friends with just gave me a hug out of nowhere, and, to this day, I'm grateful for her for making feel "seen" because at that time, it was all I needed. So, make an effort to actually check on people now and again.
  4. Stick to your values no matter what others might say or think. This is probably the most cliche advice that I usually skip when I read on some post on Facebook. But, as cliche as it sounds, it's the most important one for me. As a world-champion people-pleaser, I can write a book on the number of times I had to give up some value or fake something just to please people or fit in. And it sucks. Everytime I would do it I would know I'm going to lose respect for myself yet I do it anyway and I hated it. I'm still working on that, but it's very important to put it here as a reminder. Giving up your values - on the long term - will never have a good impact on your life. In the best case, it will make you fit in with a bunch of people that you really wanted to fit in with, you might become best friends and have the best of times. But then, at some point, you'll realize that they're not best friends with you, they're best friends with the version of you that you displayed to them. And, when you realize that, two things will happen: 1) you'll hate that version of you and you'll regret giving up your values and you'll feel suddenly like a lonely stranger and this will suck or 2) you'll decide that this version of you is a better version and that you were right to give up those values that you gave up. In this case, you might be right, maybe they changed you to the better which is great, then you just gave up bad values! But, be really careful because if that were not the case and you did change to the worse because of them, then you still haven't reached the end of it, and eventually you will reach case 1 which I described earlier which will suck.
  5. Do assume, communicate. I've recently realized that we tend to make a TON of assumptions many of which are reasonable but many of which are also extremely unreasonable. Worse yet, we tend to act upon our assumptions. This sucks, we all do it, and it leads to unnecessary complications and so many disappointments. So, if someone has been rude to you, talk to them; maybe your assumption is wrong, maybe they have a reason. If it's something you can't communicate - although many things that we think are incommunicatable are actually very much communicatable (I don't know if that's a word) - then, still, don't make assumptions, or at least don't try your best not to act upon assumptions. Because, and I know this is a repeat, but we really do make more mistaken assumptions than we think.