Hacking your way through college does not mean you’ll miss out on your education. 

Readers of this site get their projects done faster, don’t worry about losing work from an unsaved paper, and love to make their class notes searchable and organized.  Yes, the advantages of embracing the life hacking culture as a student are numerous. However, whenever I’ve tried to describe the concept to others, I’m often greeted by a common refrain.

“Doesn’t taking shortcuts through college mean you’ll miss out on learning?”

This perception is woefully outdated and off-base, and you should never be discouraged if you hear it yourself, because here’s the dirty secret: learning is not college, and college is not learning.

College is a four year stress test to prove that you can take on big projects. College is a sandbox to experience new things, and decide what you want to do with your life. College is a competition to separate yourself from your peers before entering the workforce.

Learning never stops; you were learning before college, and you’ll learn more once you leave. You can learn in the classroom, but you will learn a lot more elsewhere. And at the end of the day, the learners will inherit the Earth, no matter where they went to school.

Hacking the college life is about getting through the day to day grunt work more efficiently; taking a machete to the maze of notes, papers, and tests and cutting yourself a straighter path. This is not the same thing as taking shortcuts to avoid learning. No, life hacking is like impatiently biting through the busywork-laden outer shell of college to get to the delicious bubble gum of learning on the inside.

Spilling coffee on your notebook, losing a paper you didn’t back up, or sending twenty emails to members of your group project to combine PowerPoint slides isn’t learning, it’s the bullshit that gets in learning’s way. If you can use your life hacking savvy to cut out the absurd amount of overhead that seeps into college life, then there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t.

So what do you do once you’ve boiled college work down to it’s essence, and aren’t spending so much time with the day-to-day administration of your education? You learn.  You use the extra time to blog, to get an internship, to teach yourself to code.  When you hack your way past the homework, tests, and notes of college, you can take the subjects and skills you’ve picked up in class, and apply them to the real world. This is how you set yourself apart when looking for a job.  This is how you grow as a person and perfect your crafts. This is how you really learn.

Have you ever been judged for taking shortcuts through schoolwork, and being unusually efficient? Do you feel you learn more when you have more time to pursue your own interests? Let us know in the comments!