Important Lessons I’ve Learned

Since enrolling at Monmouth almost two years ago, I can confidently say the experience thus far has changed me. College has taught me a ridiculous amount of lessons that I feel obligated to share to help anyone else who may find themselves in similar positions.

This first lesson hit me the hardest—you never have as much work as you really think you do. I was chatting with my friend about this and we both agreed that students have a tendency to cram for a couple of nights, leaving them no work to complete for the rest of the week.

I am guilty of pulling all-nighters just to get a couple assignments done out of worry that I won’t have time to do them later. Nevertheless, upon hammering out two assignments in an hour or two, I realize I could have afforded myself more time. On top of that, the work I did turn in ends up being mediocre. I end up regretting not pacing myself so I can turn in the best work possible.

Further, a skill I need to work on, and that every student should practice, is learning how to set an academic schedule so you don’t run into problems of cramming and submitting less than your best.
Cailyn Olah, a sophomore health studies student, said, “Focus on your work, but also make time for the things you love!”

Another lesson I’ve learned in college is to save your money. As a college student, budgeting involves almost all of your day-to-day activities From gas, rent, food, and personal care products, everything adds up! It makes it that much more important to save up and set aside necessities.

Troy Fenton, a sophomore communication student, explained how he budgets his money. “I take 60 percent from my paycheck and put that into my savings, and then I take the other 40 percent and put into my checking account for my needs, like gas, toiletries, food, and my subscriptions,” he said.

It can be difficult to save, especially in a society that values materialism and overconsumption. The latest Instagram and TikTok beauty, fashion, and lifestyle trends are fun but also expensive.

Consider the trendy Stanley Cup, which is not only bulky and unattractive, but also costs 40 dollars. Trends have short-life spans; be sure to invest your money in products that won’t inevitably go to waste.
So, I guess there are actually two lessons to take away: first, start saving your money; second, do so by not wasting your savings on trends.

As I continue my college journey, one lesson has become particularly obvious to me—no one cares. Now, I don’t mean this in a bad way. Your friends, family, and loved ones still obviously care about you when you’re in college. But the general population doesn’t care about all the superficial things people focused on in high school. For example, no one cares how you dress, what your hair looks like, or what you post online.

Sage Journal defines the spotlight effect as “people’s tendency to overestimate the extent to which their behavior and appearance are noticed and evaluated by others, and the illusion of transparency, or people’s tendency to overestimate the extent to which their internal states leak out and are detectable by others.”

In simpler terms, the spotlight effect is the belief that all eyes are constantly on you and everyone around you is always judging you.

The spotlight effect is definitely not unique to people in high school, but college students as well.

Especially as a freshman, I know it can feel like everyone is constantly watching you. Nevertheless, rest assured—everyone has a lot more going on than to worry about what you say and do.

“In high school, I feel like people cared about cliques and being popular… But, in college, everyone is so focused on themselves and the important people or situations in their own lives,” said Julianna Tornabene, a sophomore marketing and management student.

I could make a list of 100 more lessons college has taught me, but the three listed are some of the top lessons that I am reminded of every day. Though these lessons are not fun to learn, you can apply them to life after college and beyond.