What the classes don’t teach

As a liberal arts student, I’ve had the opportunity (and have been required) to take courses on a wide array of topics, from Voice and Diction (tongue teasers galore!) to Digital Photography (more PhotoShop tips than you can shake a stick at), from Sun and Solar Systems (more math than I expected) to Spirituality in Literature (all the spiritualities!).

But for all the nuggets of knowledge I have I collected, the best have come from outside the classroom. While it was tough to move to the next state over to a place where I knew almost no one, I’m glad I did.

Living in a dorm is like a liberal arts experience of its own. Depending on the types of people you live with, new experiences build up. Doing normal things, such as washing dishes, trying to fall asleep and coordinating shower times, become learning opportunities simply because they involve working with new people.

Here are some nonacademic nuggets I’ve picked up over the last three years:

  1. It’s impossible to kid yourself into majoring in a field that’s not meant for you. Don’t lie to yourself.

  2. There’s no shame in looking to the simple things for fun. Think sidewalk chalk.

  3. With a good nickname, you’ll go far.

  4. Don’t put leftover cooking oil down the toilet. It may seem like a good idea, but it’s not.

  5. Dryer sheets are one of the most versatile inventions known to man. Besides their obvious use for laundry, they also repel bugs, get rid of static in hair, remove adhesive residue and double as an air freshener for any room or closet.

  6. You don’t really know someone until you live with them. Living together is the test.

  7. A good backpack will be your best friend, especially on a hilly campus.

  8. Baking soda removes coffee and tea stains from mugs. Good to remember after marathon study sessions, which almost always require caffeine.

  9. Sometimes the best alarm clock is your roommate and/or suitemate. Especially if they have a blow-horn app on their phone.

  10. Breakfast is your friend and cannot be replaced by caffeine.

  11. It’s okay to change, and it’s okay to move on.


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