7 Lessons Taught in College but not in the Curriculum

Learn How to Learn!

If you are thinking about running your own business, stay in school. Many of the skills learned surviving the college experience can be just as important as what they teach you in the classroom.

Just to get through 4 years of college requires disciplines and mindsets that are essential to self-employment and building your business. Yes, college is expensive and there’s no promise of a job. But just going through the process is an education you can’t get anywhere else. It forces you to learn how to learn on many levels.

Here is a list of what you learn outside the posted curriculum, and why it is critical to your entrepreneurial future:

1. Taking Notes. It’s virtually impossible to remember everything that is said in class. You must take good notes. You listen for, not just “to” what is being said. You have to organize your notes to clearly understand the lesson. These habits of writing it down, organizing, and making conclusions based on evidence are at the heart of any successful business.

2. Research. College projects inadvertently teach you the research skills you will need to create a well-documented business plan. Your writing skills will also improve, because you have to clearly communicate what you have discovered, organize the premises, and build on the conclusions. You learn the vast array of resources available to you. This is encouraging to overcoming any business challenge.

3. Accountability. Exams are the bane of any college education. They require great notes, good comprehension, and excellent retention. They teach a mindset of accountability, which is essential to business success. Whether it’s the bank, vendors, employees, government, or your customers, you are going to be held accountable. Instead of getting A’s or F’s, it will be credit or no credit, sales or no sales. The college exam process teaches you to prepare and deliver.

4. Delayed gratification. Studying for exams, hours of research, and forgoing fun times are necessary just to get through college. Making a four-year commitment and seeing it through is a lesson in sacrifice for a greater good. The amount of personal sacrifice in the start-up phase of a business can discourage many would-be entrepreneurs. College grads are used to it.

5. Social Skills. Unlike high school, college students often travel far from their familiar surroundings. Being exposed to different cultures and realizing what they all have in common are great advantages going into business. In college, you learn about different cultures through your study partners, roommates, and classmates. This understanding will teach you how to get along with a wide range of people.

6. Multi-tasking. In college, you learn quickly how to juggle classes, work, social, income and expenses. Giving attention to each, but not neglecting any, is a skill that will last a lifetime, and is absolutely required in business. Just covering the cost of college by itself is a lesson in cash flow management and accounting. Scheduling classes and allocating study and work time is a lesson in risk management.

7. Transition. Going from being dependent on your parents to becoming independent is a real wake-up call. Many students have to put themselves through college. That in itself can be a great education. Being independent and self-reliant will become the backbone of your business.

Years after you graduate, when you get out in the real world, you will look back and realize that you learned quite a bit they didn’t think they were teaching you in college. You learned many of the key skills required for a successful business. Most of all, you learned how to learn!


About Michael Houlihan & Bonnie Harvey

Starting in a laundry room with no money or industry knowledge, they built the iconic Best-Selling Barefoot Wine Brand - without advertising. In 2005, they monetized their brand equity and now offer proven business principles and real world experience. Visit our YouTube Channel →


  1. NEWS FETCH – SEPTEMBER 10, 2012 | Wine Industry Insight - September 10, 2012

    [...] 7 Lessons Taught in College but not in the Curriculum [...]

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