5 Things Every College Student (and Entrepreneur) Needs to Know

collegestudentLast weekend I spent two days at my alma mater. I wasn’t there for an alumni event or even Homecoming, I was there to participate in Family Weekend. My daughter is a sophomore at my college–and it has taken me a little over a year to stop calling it MY college.

It’s her college now—her experiences, her opportunities, her friends. But every single time I arrive on campus I am met with flashbacks of my own days on campus and begin to make a mental list of all the things I wish someone would have told me when I was a co-ed. In fact, some of those are the same things I wish someone would have told me when I first became an entrepreneur. Such as….

Take a Business Class
The summer of my junior year I was encouraged to head my liberal arts major ass over to the business building and take Personal Finance 101. And it changed my life. It didn’t take away my love for the written word or my desire to write the next great American novel, it just gave me the practical knowledge I needed to get from point A to point B (or point C—I’m still working on that novel). While most entrepreneurs start their business from a place of passion, never underestimate the need for good, old-fashioned business knowledge. The more you know, the better you will be. Always.

Instagram (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) Is Not Reality
Fortunately, I went to college pre-Internet; however, I see how this brave new medium has distorted our view of reality.  Bottom line: every photo or statement you see on social media does not reality make. Keep in mind that people only want you to see the “good” part of what they are doing—their success moments. They are leaving out the crucial part of the story—the failed sales presentations, the missed deadlines—the moments when, quite honestly, they probably gained their biggest life lessons. When you feel yourself getting swept up in the euphoria of social media, keep this quote in mind: “I’m too busy working on my own grass to notice if your grass is greener.”

Get a Mentor
You need to find a Yoda to your Luke Skywalker (hello, Star Wars fans!)—someone that takes you under their wing and guides you towards your goals. Whether this is an upperclassman you admire or someone in your networking circles, a mentor is a trusted advisor who is invested in your future and can offer some much needed perspective when you find yourself at a personal or professional crossroad.

Ask for Help
The first thing I told my daughter when she left for college: “Make good choices.” The second thing: “Know your professors’ office hours.” Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. “When you don’t ask for help when you need it, you assume all of the burden that might easily (and gladly) be shared,” writes Margie Warrell in an article for Forbes.com. “But you also deprive those who’d love to assist you of the opportunity to do so. Everyone is worse off.”

Bad Food is Always a Bad Idea
I remember eating an entire bag of Doritos dipped in sour cream (yes, dipped in sour cream) during a late night study session. No worries, I washed it all down with a Diet Coke. In college as in startups, you lack two important things: money and time. Do not let this stop you from eating well and exercising. The better you eat, the better you feel. The better you feel, the better results you will deliver. Science proves this. The test I took the morning after my Doritos/sour cream binge proves this.

What is one thing you wish you would had known as a college student and as a first-time entrepreneur?



by Patti Minglin




image courtesy of flickr CC/CollegeDegrees360