According to dictionary.com, college is "an institution of higher learning that grants the bachelor's degree in liberal arts or science or both." But what the definition does not include is the many life lessons and valuable skills a person acquires from attending college.

College was never an option for me. I grew up knowing that I would attend a college so that I could receive a complete education and work at a job I enjoyed. But when I signed my name on the dotted line to attend Pittsburg State University, I didn't realize how much more I would learn and take from my time spent at PSU.

During my two and a half years at PSU, my perspective on the world has completely changed. My world of small- town Kansas was harshly interrupted. I now realize how large and yet how small the world is all at the same time. I have met people from all over the world and have also met people who somehow know my parents or are related to my best friend from high school. I have also learned that not everyone was raised with the same values and beliefs as I was, and in order to get along with others, I must respect those differences so that they will respect me.

As with majority of the freshmen who attend college, I lived in the dorms. This experience not only taught me the value of cleanliness, but I also learned to live with a total stranger. From taking a daily shower in public showers to sharing a room smaller than my bedroom at home with another person, my time living in the dorms taught me many valuable lessons that I have taken with me. During my second and third year in college, I have lived off-campus with other students. Those experiences have also taught me valuable life lessons by allowing me to learn the value of money management, cleanliness and getting along with others. Even in situations when I am one-hundred-percent sure I am correct and without fault, there is always room to compromise. I have learned it is better to lose an argument than it is to lose a friend.

Finally I have learned the value of time and stress management. As the semester wears on, my patience has lowered and my stress level has risen. As I am facing the prospects of a ten-page term paper and various other end-of-the-semester projects I can feel my anxiety growing. This isn't the first year that I will have various papers and projects due, but I just never seem to get used to the whole idea. What I have gotten used to is the stress and lack of time I always experience. I now know that the work isn't going to go away on its own, and the sooner I begin on my projects the quicker I will be relieved of the stress and anxiety that accompanies them. That doesn't always mean I will begin my papers and projects when they are assigned, but I sure will think about it a little more because I know how much time and energy it will take.

College is a wonderful institution. It has given me the opportunity to pursue a career path of my choosing. While I am learning the skills needed for my future profession, I have also acquired many other important life skills that will help me not only in the workplace but in everyday life as well. I am more well-rounded and a better educated person because I attend college. I am more open to others' views and opinions, and I can handle many situations that I did not have the skills to deal with before I attended college. The many different people I have encountered through my time at PSU have helped me to open my eyes to other cultures and lifestyles that I would not have experienced by staying at home. College is not only a place of higher learning, but also a place to learn more about the real world and how to operate in it.

Katie Stockstill resides in Pittsburg, Kan., and is a senior in communication at Pittsburg State University.

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