10 Things I Learned in University That Had Nothing to Do With My Degree

It’s September, which means hundreds of thousands of students across the country are heading back to school.

For the rest of us, it’s a good time to reflect on those so-called “best years of our lives.” While I learned a lot during my time in post-secondary education, some of the most important lessons didn’t come from my overpriced physics and stats textbooks. Things like testing my (alcohol) limits, how to survive as a sleep deprived zombie and how to manage my finances (or lack thereof).

So in the spirit of the season, here are 10 important skills I gained in university that had absolutely nothing to do with my degree.

1. How To Manage My Time
Not only did I have to balance many different subjects but I also had to balance my friends, family, jobs, events and other things. I had to decide if going out and being severely hungover for tomorrow’s exam would be worth it. Spoiler alert: it’s not. Additionally, making to-do lists became my life during university. Why? Because I got such a high from checking off completed items from my list! I still use this method as a way to keep myself on track.

2. How To Get Sh*t Done Without Sleep
Thanks to caffeine and the crippling anxiety of an upcoming exam, I pulled some crazy all-nighters. I’m talking that sleep deprived “oh sh*t I’m having hallucinations” kind of no-sleep. I learned how to complete tasks and assignments in zombie mode. Was this healthy? Hell no. But it sure did teach me how to work under pressure.


3. How To Make Good Friends
Real friends were the ones who understood that during #examszn, you’d be completely unreachable, living only at the library, wearing nothing but a hoodie and leggings for a month. Other “friends” would resent you for this and make you feel like you’re taking things too seriously. Luckily, I got rid of those not-so-great friends along the way.

4. How To Be Resourceful
I’ve made meals with close to zero ingredients, made Halloween costumes for under $20, wrote papers and thesis statements out of thin air. Overall, I really learned how to think on my feet.


5. How To Drink 
University is a time of experimentation, so it’s only natural I pushed the boundaries of my liver to figure out how many vodka cranberries I could handle. Yes, there were nights that I thought I might actually die, and some hangovers were so intense I wanted my mother to nurse me back to health. But after four years, I had pretty much figured out my limit. On a related note, I also learned that pre-drinking before going out is way easier on the wallet.

6. How To Live With Debt
As if school isn’t already stressful enough, the whole time you’re very much aware that you’re going to owe well over $30K at the end of it. But thank goodness for OSAP right?


7. How To Develop a Caffeine Addiction
I would often start my day with a large coffee from Tim’s, followed by an espresso, then another large at lunch, a Red Bull to beat that afternoon crash and another double espresso in the evening. Do I regret pushing myself this hard? Of course! Being as hopped up as Jessie Spano has its side effects i.e shakes, insomnia, crashing etc.

8. How To Pack On the Pounds
The freshman 15 sure is scalable! We have the freshman 20, the freshman 27 and my favourite – the freshman “I haven’t weighed myself since I started university.”


9. How To Determine Your Needs and Wants 
When you’re living on an OSAP budget, you quickly learn the difference between the two – i.e needing dinner vs. wanting a beer. I even learned how to change needs into wants. For instance, a $170 psych book that’s “recommended” can be scanned by your friends for half the price.

10. How To Make the Most of Your Degree
Maybe your sociology degree isn’t applicable at your insurance job right now but hey, it got you an interview and eventually the job! Persevering till you get that coveted piece of paper can open doors to a lot of great opportunities, even if you can’t see the point of university right now.