3 lessons every college student must learn, according to one president

As admission deadlines come and go, many prospective students may feel that their future success depends on which colleges they attend, rather than the work they'll do once they get there, Michael Roth writes for the Washington Post.

In reality, students don't need to attend a highly selective college to embark on a worthwhile journey of academic and personal discovery, argues Roth, president of Wesleyan University.

Pulling from over thirty years of experience in higher ed, Roth identifies three key lessons every student can learn in college—no matter the institution they attend.

Lesson 1: Step out of your academic comfort zone

First-year students may be tempted to declare a major based solely on their interests in high school or the (unhelpful) advice of their parents and friends. But students who take the time to experiment with different disciplines will forge a more fulfilling career path, Roth writes. And students who finalize their majors later in college are actually more likely to graduate than those who settle on a major right away, according to a study from EAB.

Read the white paper: Myths and facts about the consequences of switching majors

Lesson 2: Lean on your professors

Once students discover the fields they find most rewarding, they should leverage school resources to become better at what they love to do, Roth advises. Students should ask their professors to help them visualize the progress they need to make before they can take their skills into the professional world, he adds.

Lesson 3: Translate your skills to employers

The most successful students can translate the skills they learned on campus into terms prospective employers can recognize, Roth writes. To prepare for the labor market, students should practice articulating how their skills can apply in the professional world, says Megan Adams, a senior consultant at EAB (Roth, Washington Post, 1/4).

Related: How to transform student employment into meaningful career development


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