What college didn’t teach me

John Mayer once said, “‘Welcome to the real world,’ she said to me, condescendingly. Take a seat. Take your life. Plot it out in black and white.”

I’m in the real world. Have been since the day I accepted my diploma. Maybe I’ve written about that here. About how I learned so much. How I have so much to learn. Blah blah blah.

Enough with the sentimental.

I was not prepared for this. This working world stuff.

In college…

A semester consisted of two to three days a week of a class. A semester with structure, time limits, and exact guidelines for how to pass go and collect your grade.

A class was run by a professor. One person telling you what they wanted and how they wanted it done, bound by written word in a syllabus.

A four-year program charted out by advisers and department chairs.

It seemed like cruel and unusual punishment at the time. If only I knew then what I know now…


A semester is nonexistent. Work is not M-W-F or T-Thurs for 90 minutes or even a 3 hour lab. Work is a full day. Every day. You don’t get out early and it never gets canceled. You don’t get a set schedule to which you conduct your daily business. There are not always clear guidelines laid out for you with drafts and pre-tests. You can’t throw out your lowest score.

A job is not run by one person. Though you have one boss, you answer to many. To your boss’ boss. To the team that holds the funds for your bosses boss. To the board members who call the shots. There is no syllabus to dictate how you should handle every project, test, and paper. Often, you never know when you’re being tested or graded. You don’t even know the grading scale.

No one, not even in HR, sits down with you to plan your every quarter and year at the company. Aside from helping you fill out tax forms and check a box for your health insurance, the HR Generalist cannot guide you through your tenure at the organization.

If you don’t like your boss, bosses boss, co-worker, etc., tough. You can’t change bosses or co-workers next semester. No one tells you before you start who NOT to have as a boss/co-worker. There aren’t other options.

“Oh, you’re going to be the new Consultant? You should definitely get Peterson as your boss. She’s really nice and super easy.”

It is not sophomore year of college. There is no Rate my Professor website for your boss. You can’t change sections for the easier boss. The HR Generalist does not hear your complaints like the department chair.

These are only a handful of the real world lessons college did not teach me. Because college is not the real world.

And now I finally get it. That life outside of college requires the same stamina that got me through those grueling courses with the professor from you know where. That the professional world is one big classroom that I have to manage myself.

Only now, the course never ends. Unless you make it end. It’s harder than transferring colleges, but not impossible.

And you can’t even wear sweats and hoodies.

P.S. Summer is not exciting when summer is the same thing you do all year round.


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