Intangibles of Getting a Degree or Diploma

After two to four years, you'll be crossing that stage to pick up so much more than just a piece of paper representing your fulfilment of X number of credits.

1. Budgeting: You might not have necessarily learned how to save money for a down payment on a house or put away for a Roth IRA, but during your years at college, you learned just how much $10 can buy for food—even it was Ramen Noodles and Fanta.

2. Sleep Deprivation: In high school, you got up at the same time each day, went to school until mid-afternoon, maybe worked a part-time job, and then went to bed a bit too late. Your weekends were essentially yours, with not much schoolwork to do. But at university, you've learned how to nap between—and sometimes during—lectures, use your weekends for your job and schoolwork, and discovered a new limit for how far you can push yourself past tired.

3. Time Management: Again, you might not have learned the necessary time management skills that future employers want to see, but you've got the core down. Brushing your teeth while running for the bus in untied boots does show you can do things on the fly, now you've just got to transfer those skills into other areas.

4. (A Bit of) Wisdom: A diploma or degree won't suddenly and magically transform you into the Buddha, but you will discover that life doesn't end with a C- on an essay, nor when you break down crying in your prof's office. You'll slowly see that each setback is just that: a setback, not doom and gloom, and how you react is the real difference-maker.

5. Flexibility: The major you declare on Day One is most likely not going to be the one you graduate with, and in between, you'll be stretched a lot: taking courses you don't like but that are necessary for your program, how to get department permission to actually take courses you want—and have them count, and figuring out how to be in two places at once.

6. Humility: There are always a handful of students who don't study or do readings, yet always get good grades. You're probably not one of them, and the humility you learn in that process will stick with you for life.

7. Navigation: Although it's unlikely that the reincarnation of Daniel Boone will call upon you, you've managed to make sense of the twisty maze that is the concrete jungle of college. And if you have a particular knack for it, you've also figured out how to get from one building to another in the rain—without getting wet.