Steverino College Edition: My Top 10 Rules for Surviving College

G'day my fine-looking amigo...

This is a little post I wrote over on Quora that went viral.

While you may not be at Uni, I guarantee you know someone who is considering it...

Do them a favour and send them my top 10 rules for surviving college:

  1. Go as far away from your hometown as you can. The best way to discover who you are and what you really believe (about yourself, others and the world) is to travel. Moving away for college will teach you invaluable personal survival skills.
  2. Find real friends. Learning who you can trust is a skill that you’ll need for the rest of your life. Be open and pay attention to who you’re attracted to and who are attracted to you. Invest in them. If it’s reciprocated, you may have these people in your life for the rest of your life.
  3. Know what problem you want to solve in the world. If you know what you’re genuinely passionate about, you’ll be better prepared to declare a major. If you don’t know, there’s still time. I did a victory lap after dropping out for a while before discovering what my vocation was. It’s okay. Failure is not fatal.
  4. College may not be for you. Higher education is a business. Colleges try to sell you on their programs and the guaranteed success you’ll have with a degree in hand. Don’t be fooled. College may not be for you. Trades and non-traditional careers are an option.
  5. Figure out how you’re wired to learn. If you’re a visual learner you better learn how to study with colours, infographics and the like. If you’re an auditory learner, don’t miss class and record it if your professor lets you. And, if you’re a kinesthetic learner, doodle and make your learning as physical as you can.
  6. Know the attendance policies. I made the mistake of only showing up for exams, which I passed with high marks, but ended up failing because I didn’t read the syllabus regarding the attendance requirements. You may be brilliant, but you also have to be present.
  7. Don’t study alone. There is power in group work. I learned more from my peers in discussion than I did in class. Don’t underestimate learning outside of lectures. You’ll benefit from teaching others and being taught.
  8. Exercise, sleep and eat. These 3 magic bullets set you up for success. All-nighters sound sexy and are the norm, but you’ll end up creating habits that are hard to break later in life. Take care of yourself and you’ll be a better student.
  9. Get a side gig. If you can find an internship or side-gig in your potential industry you’ll be a step ahead of the competition. Head knowledge is great, but immersion is so much more valuable. Apply the books to the real world.
  10. Say no. Don’t settle for classes, professors, majors, people, activities, or any potential distraction that you don’t wholeheartedly love. When you find a topic, cause, people and professors you’re passionate about, your learning will take on an unstoppable quality. Say no to everything else.

If you’re reading this and you would like more clarity on if college is for you (or your kiddo), or if you should change your major, or if you should quit, then we should talk. The first conversation is always on me.

Before you go:

Share and forward this post (heck, you can even print it and stick to your teenager's door) with any potential college students you know so they can find it…and follow along here with us add-dults. 

Here's to the school of life...

Steve Knox