How to Tell if You’ll Thrive at University

College and university are supposed to be one of the best times of your life. But if you take a look at a cross-section of students, you’ll find that the experience isn’t always positive. While some individuals have a great time with their work, join sports teams and have a varied social life, others suffer in isolation, struggle with the academic side of things, and ultimately drop out.

The reasons why some people thrive and others don’t in college is complex, and depends on the character and personality of the individual. However, some general trends will predict whether you’ll like college life and others that you won’t.

You Enjoy Competitive Pressure

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Like it or not, school is an inherently competitive environment. You’re trying to outcompete the people around you, convince professors that you’re extremely smart, and generally come out on top. Most colleges mark to a relative standard, meaning that they have quotas for how many people can get the top grades. Often, it’s not about how well you do on an exam that counts, but how well your colleagues do.

If you’re the type of person who loves competition and thrives on it, then college is a great environment, but if you don’t, then it can be an ordeal. Not living up to the standards set by your peers can leave you feeling down in the dumps and questioning your value as a person. Often people drop out of college not because they can’t do the work, but because they believe that they’re not as skilled as the people around them.

You Like Investigating Solutions By Yourself

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People who thrive in college tend to be those who like the mental activity of trying to solve a problem for the first time. Solving problems requires a degree of effort, and if you’re not used to it, expending all that energy in intellectual pursuits can be a challenge.

Many people don’t like the rigor of academic work. And why should they? Not everyone wants to spend time-solving abstract problems, and that’s fine. The problem is that being able to do that kind of thing is what both universities and society expect, even if it has nothing to do with the role that people eventually play.

Different personalities have varying tolerances for independent problem-solving. Some people love it because it gives them a sense of satisfaction while others hate it and would rather be doing anything else. If you’re in the latter group of people, then you’ll struggle to thrive so long as you have those feelings towards academic work.

You Choose Courses You Believe Will Help You in the Long Run


It’s easy to enroll in a course at university and wonder how it will help you in the future. People who study history, for instance, might worry that their choice of subject won’t lead them to the life that they want to live. But taking these kinds of courses might be a bad idea for many students, especially those who doubt that they will lead anywhere.

Many enlightened students are recognizing this about themselves ahead of time and applying to institutions such as Baylor University Online where they can get courses for particular vocations. Knowing that you’re doing a course so that you can get into the career you want can make a massive difference to motivation. The more likely a course will lead to a good outcome, and the more practical it is, the more compelling it will be.

You Actually Love the Safety of Conformity

Like it or not, universities encourage conformity, both in terms of doing work by set deadlines and ideologically. For many people, conformity is comfortable; they want to fit in with the people around them. But for others, it’s a nightmare and feels like an erasure of their personality.

Many entrepreneurs tend to struggle in college and university because they often take contrarian views. They want to change the world in some way but feel trapped by the confines of the institution. People who want to create their own empires often feel like school gets in the way and that they need to get on with making real changes in the here and now.

You Prefer Theory To Practical Experience

Modern education is about teaching people about life through books, rather than through experience. When it comes to technical disciplines, books certainly have their place: they’re a great way to learn the fundamentals of maths or programming. But books can only take you so far, especially in the realm of business.

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So much of why some people are successful has nothing to do with what they know academically, but what they understand intuitively. Just like a dog has tacit knowledge of how to catch a ball in its mouth, some people understand which products will appeal to consumers and what they should create. It’s like a sixth sense.

For those who prefer practical experience, college can feel like a bit of a drag. They want to be out in the world, using their skills, not confined to the library.

You Love Meeting New People


If there’s one thing that’s true about college, it’s the fact that you’ll meet a lot of new people. Most colleges and universities throw people together in on-site dorms for their first year, helping to build a community and connections that last throughout the college experience. Getting to know your neighbors is part and parcel of what it means to go to a higher education establishment.

However, if you’re a shy person or somebody who wants to stay close to family, then you’ll struggle. Often, you have to go weeks on end without going home, unless you take an online course. And that can make you feel depressed. Many people turn their back on college in the first few weeks because they can’t handle the reality of being away from home.

What’s your experience of school like? Do you enjoy it? Or do you think it’s overrated?

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