5 Primordial Things College Teaches us | #SingaporeSignatures

The importance of clear communication

Figuring out exactly what your professor expects from an assignment is the surest way to excel at it. The same goes for employers. Assuming that you’re on the same wavelength as the person evaluating your performance is never a safe risk to take. Anyone who’s taken an English or Philosophy class can attest to this.
College teaches us to approach professors, employers and sexual partners with a shameless need for clarification as to what they expect from us. It’s the most efficient way to get anything done right.

How to balance conflicting responsibilities
Juggling school, relationships, extra-curricular activities and part-time jobs makes you the master of multi-tasking. It also makes you the master of taking responsibility for your actions because your boss doesn’t care that you had a huge paper due last night and your professor doesn’t care that your girlfriend is mad at you again.

It’s inevitable that at some point, the various roles we take on throughout college will interact negatively and leave us to pick up the pieces. This is also a game the real world forces us to play, over and over again. In the years after college we will prioritize and re-prioritize our lives more times than we will be able to count. It takes a lot of trial and error to get things right, but that’s a game we’ve been familiar with for years. After all, succeeding at college is the art of taking educated guesses. And so is succeeding at life. 

How to work cohesively with the worst people ever

For the average worker, life is going to be one big group project until the day they retire. The good news is you have 4+ years of practice navigating the relationships between the anal-retentive over-achiever and the person who your textbook refers to as a “social loafer.” These people now come in the form of bosses, colleagues, and co-workers… and you know the secret to dealing with them! It’s passive-aggressive compliance, followed up with a big old glass of wine when you get home. Thanks, college!

How to keep it together when things fall apart

The Murphy’s Law of college is that everything that could go wrong will go wrong the night before a final exam. Now that you’ve had a grandparent die, a significant other break up with you, and an over-dramatic roommate wage war three hours before you have to get up to relay all the information you know about a tediously dry topic, what can’t you do? College tests your emotional limits as much as your intellectual ones and the coping skills you pick up will follow you on past graduation.

How to live and work in tough spaces
College is a time of freedom but, let’s face it, unfettered space wasn’t really an option.

Students usually don’t have a lot of extra money (still) and that means personal space is limited. According to census figures, most college student in the last two decades bunked down in a dorm room for at least a year. The 2010 census is not yet complete, but expect to see the highest numbers of dorm-dwellers go up due to an increase of college attendance coupled with a recession pushing people out of the labor market and back to school.

So why was living in a dorm a good thing for your post-grad life? Well, dorms are crowded, often messy places. They force us to do the daily, little things that are important to complete in regular life, like doing laundry and taking out the garbage. They help us adapt to new environments where interaction with difficult personalities in tight quarters is a given. Essentially, proper dorm etiquette prepared you for the real world.

When you are stuck in a small space at work with people you don’t necessarily like, you know how to deal with it, right? That was a college lesson.

Adjustment to dorm-style life has been a critical component of many companies in the last decade. The environment in IT start-ups has closely reflected this change. Several major IT companies have appropriated the loose creativity college-style environments engender – Microsoft started the dorm-style, free food craze, and Google pushed it to another level by allowing yoga balls as office seating and building large communal spaces filled with gadgets and games.

That particular open-space ethos has also been translated to the work itself: Google added a 20% time slot for all workers to work on their own projects to find new innovations. This looseness is modelled on the freedom of college, and many other companies now look for that great new idea that might come from their most creative workers.

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