According to an article on Psychology Today, the place where we college students are supposed to be doing the most learning in life is actually one of the worst places to learn. Why, you might ask? Well, it’s a place where no one ever sleeps because we’re all cramming to do homework. The food sucks—it’s fast, fatty, and about as nutritious as the cardboard box it comes in. Alcohol and partying is ubiquitous, stunting the development of our brains. And to top it all off, people are smoking cigarettes to take the edge off and focus on writing papers, but really, they’re just getting lung cancer.


The horror! No parents to tell us no, nobody to be responsible for except ourselves, and all of this fun stuff out there for us to try out? How is anyone able to graduate college when we’re living in an environment like this?


Well, here’s the dealio, oh, Psychology Daily. We already know that college can be a pretty rough place sometimes. We get it. We need sleep. We need food. And when not moderated, alcohol can be a very, very bad thing. But the fact is, I think, that the environment that college education happens in is actually not a bad place for us to learn. In fact, I think it’s probably the best. 


There are two parts to learning in college, and both of them are equally as important and vital to becoming a college graduate. The first part is the one that you’re well aware of upon entering college. You’ll be reading papers by great academics in your field, writing about your own thoughts and opinions, and doing all of that other scholarly, educational stuff that is going to make you a very, very smart graduate. Yay you.


However, the second part of your college education is learning how to function outside of the home that you grew up in. And, surprise, that includes making some difficult decisions and learning how to balance your time. Do you study for your exam or do you go out with your friends for a night on the town? Do you eat pizza or do you eat grilled chicken? Do you pull an all-nighter or do you stop studying early and get a few extra hours of sleep?


The fact of the matter is that there usually isn’t a right answer. There’s usually a smart answer, but that doesn’t always mean that there’s a black-and-white right answer. There’s nothing wrong with going out with your friends for drinks as long as you’ve taken care of your other responsibilities first. Maybe one night you just really have a craving for pizza. Maybe you really do need to pull an all-nighter in order to fully prepare for that test or finish your paper. The things you will learn in college that you won’t be taught in the classroom is to know yourself, your boundaries, and how to balance your time.


If you don’t learn the important skills of coping with external expectations like due dates on your own terms in college, they’re going to be a hell of a lot harder to learn in the real world when your job and income is on the line. So is college a hard place to learn? Yes, definitely, sometimes it’s a hard place to learn. But the fact that it’s a hard place to learn makes the education we get that much more rewarding and meaningful for when we graduate.


What do you think of the Psychology Daily article? What are the hardest things you have to deal with while trying to get an education in college?