Recently I had a blogger friend reach out to me and ask my opinion about continuing with school or stopping and pursuing blogging full time. We had a great conversation and the question came up about if what we learn in classes actually helps us outside of college.
This question got my wheels turning. As a lifelong learner, I’ve always valued my education. But what specific classes actually helped me in real life? In my career? In blogging? Our conversation inspired me to share:
5 Ways My College Classes Actually Helped Me in Real Life
The purpose of this blog post is to share with other prospective students and current college students how your college education can help you in real life. So if you’re wondering if your college education is worth it, this may be the blog post for you. I was in your boat just a few years ago– I took on the college debt and committed four years of my life to getting a degree.
Before I plunge in the lessons I took from all my classes, I probably should tell you what I majored in. I majored in business administration and focused on marketing and sales. Outside my business classes, I took classes that sounded the most interesting to me. So if the following class sounds out of scope of a business degree, it is!
College Class #1: American Politics
Life Lesson: Implicit vs. Explicit Attitudes
My freshman year of college I took American Politics. It was in this class where my self-awareness about my thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs were shook to their core. One of our assignments at the beginning of the quarter was to take an implicit attitudes quiz. This quiz asked us our thoughts and feelings in regards to money and religion. At the end of the quiz, I learned I had a negative implicit attitude towards money and a positive implicit attitude towards politics. This made sense because money was always a source of stress in my family which made money negative. Additionally, my family was raised catholic – attended church every week and celebrated all the religious holidays which made religion positive.
This was the first time in my life where I realized my subconscious biases around money, race, religion, and more. This one class made me realize that even when I thought I wasn’t being judgmental, I had biases that influenced my thoughts and perspective.
College Class #2: Finance
Life Lesson: Time Value of Money
After taking two accounting classes, I was a little scared of finance but I knew I would survive. One of the biggest lessons I took away from my finance class was the time value of money concept. So what is the time of value of money? It’s the concept that your money is worth more today than it is in the future. In this present moment, your $20 has earning potential – or the chance to be invested to make more money. Your $20 in five, ten, or even twenty years from now is worth less because you don’t know what the future conditions of the market are going to be. If this is confusing, investopedia has a great video explaining it.
Since I’ve grown up with a negative implicit attitude towards money, understanding how money works actually helped me start looking at money differently. This specific concept showed me that I can learn how to be financially literate.
For instance in blogging collaborations and campaigns, some brands pay at net 30, 60, or even 90 day. If you get paid $100 at a net 30, that means you can put that money in your savings account in one month and start accumulating interest. If you get paid $100 at a net 90, that means you have to wait 3 months before you can put that money in your savings account and start gaining interest.
College Class #3: Psychology of Racism
Life Lesson: What are micro aggressions, why stereotypes arise, and unpacking my identity
In my American Politics class, I learned about implicit and explicit attitudes. Then in my Psychology of Racism class, we took it to a whole new level and studied why micro aggressions and stereotypes arise. This class shook my identity to the core as I unpacked the micro aggressions and stereotypes I’ve faced as a young woman and a woman of color.
If you don’t know what a micro aggression is,
a micro aggression is an indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination towards someone within a marginalized group (people with disabilities, women, people of color, LGBT, religious minorities, etc.). A micro aggression can be action or statement. Typically the person saying or doing something may not even realize that what they are saying or doing is communicating a negative message. If you want to dive into micro aggressions, Psychology today has a great article with plenty of examples: Microaggressions in Everyday Life.
I realized that I experienced micro aggressions all my life. People have told me they’re surprise I speak English so well and didn’t have an accent. I’ve also had doctors and Uber drivers be confused and ask me why I’m not Hispanic because my last name is Cortes.
And on the other side, I unpacked my own implicit biases I’ve been carrying all my life. This class helped me become more aware of those biases and gave me the tools to be able to teach others to recognize their own biases.
College Class #4: Sales
Life Lesson: Motivation
My focus in my business degree was marketing and sales. Four years out of college and four jobs later, I’m still using the lessons I learned about motivation and understanding my selling style.
Whether you’re on the path of being a subject matter expert, a manager, or an entrepreneur, understanding what motivates people will only help you in your career and goals. Different people are motivated by different things. More importantly, understanding how YOU are personally motivated will help you be more productive and work towards YOUR life goals. If you want to figure out how you are motivated, I break down types of motivation in a previous blog post.
College Class #5: Business Communications
Life Lessons: Writing a business email and presentations
When I graduated from college and started working, I was surprised that I had peers who didn’t know how to give a presentation or write emails. To this day I’m still surprised that I have peers who stress about writing clear, concise emails.
At the time, I took for granted the assignments we had writing emails, giving class presentations, and getting feedback immediately. Emails and presentations are my way of life – both in my corporate career and in blogging. In fact, I find giving presentations to be one of my strengths!
Bonus “College Class”: My entire business degree
Life Lesson: I wouldn’t be in my career today if I didn’t have a college degree.
I would not have been hired by Boeing or PepsiCo if I didn’t have a college degree. I wouldn’t have gone through final round interviews with Google or Ebay if I didn’t have a college degree. If you’re looking to start a career in corporate America, a college degree is almost always necessary to even apply for the job. It wasn’t always like this – in fact just a few decades ago, you didn’t even need a degree. But from my experience, this is just the reality of the working world today.
So what happened with my blogger friend?….
Ultimately, I let my (blogger/Instagram) friend know that if she truly feels like it’s the right move to stop college and pursue her passion, that she should do it. College is just one path to take and there’s millions of paths to finding your passions and building your career. And if you know what you’re feeling called to do, you should pursue it.
On the flip side, if you’re taking classes that are unaligned with your interest, maybe you just need to switch majors. If you enjoy what you’re learning in school, you’ll probably have a completely different attitude towards it.
Anyways, thank you always for reading! I hope this blog post has given some perspective on how college can help you prepare for the real world. I also hope I’ve shared how college is worth it!
What college class has helped you in real life? Which college class was your favorite?
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Photos: Holly Phan Photography