By Steve Good – Director of Education & Technology
Working with Phi Delta Theta’s educational endeavors, I constantly have to ask myself, “What lessons are important to our young Phi Delts and how can we provide them with this education?” The topics are endless and it’s tough to know how to prioritize. We ultimately tailor our educational message to the topics that are most relevant and present within chapter operations for all Phi Delts. Once again, tough to prioritize, but that’s where our focus remains.
Having said all of this, and seeing my “# of years since I was an undergraduate” tally increase, I continue to come across “real-life” lessons that one would think I should have learned about as an undergraduate. You know what they say – “Hindsight is 20/20.” So in an effort to encourage you to soak up information about real life topics prior to leaving school, I’ve decided to develop a list of classes that I wish I would have taken as an undergraduate.
While there may not be classes offered at your school around these topics, I can guarantee there is someone who can lead you to the right place.
Organizational Psychology 101 – I recently finished my MBA and my favorite class was through the psychology department – Go figure. Each of you will ultimately find yourself working within an organization. Even you, Mr. Entrepreneur will need to know the ins and outs of organizational psychology once you’ve started a business and have employees. Organizational psychology tries to answer such questions as: “How do we increase productivity?”, “What time-off and vacation structure results in our employees showing up to work at the highest rate?”, “How do you keep employees happy?”, “Why does our company have this culture?”, “How do you work with a person of that personality type?”, and much more. It is fascinating stuff, and having knowing a bit about the topic will make you a valuable employee.
Real Estate 101 – The majority of you will one day own a piece of property. Many times, this is the biggest investment you will make during your lifetime. Not knowing about real estate going into the process may ultimately leave you with frustrations or a dismal financial situation. It is important to know about mortgages, interest rates, down payments, private mortgage insurance (PMI), amortization schedules, etc. There are a lot of terms and decisions thrown your way during the home-buying process and being well equipped with this knowledge is extremely beneficial.
Public Speaking 201 – Most schools will require a basic speech class, but I would recommend taking a few. You can never become too confident in front of a group of people and trust me, it will happen. Your experience will be seen by your colleagues, employees, potential clients, and boss. You will also be able to pass along your message in a more professional manner. The fears of public speaking can dwindle with a little experience.
Personal Finances 101 – Now I’m not one to speak about how to develop the perfect marriage as I’ve only had a better half for ummm… a little over a year and a half (I may or may not have just looked at my Outlook calendar), but I can tell you that the number one reason for divorce is finances. Whether you intend on getting married or not, it is essential to have a base of personal finance knowledge leaving college. You will have income, increased expenses, dependents, retirement funding options, tax responsibilities, and much more. You don’t have to be a Finance or Accounting major to obtain this education. If your school does not offer classes about personal finances, I guarantee your career center can lead you to the right place.
Negotiations 101 – Finally, your life will be full of negotiations – with yourself and others. Knowing the art of finding the balanced and middle ground will help you immensely. You’ll know how to laugh at your car salesman when he asks you “How much would you like your monthly payment to be?” or converse with your boss when discussing your salary and benefits package. A negotiations education will also allow you to know how to negotiate deals with clients and even allow you to weigh your own schedule, allowing for time for things that are important to you.
So there you have it, a little advice that I wish I would have taken myself. Let me state that you will need to further your knowledge of these topics post-college. I am, by no means, an expert in any of these topics, but I can guarantee that spending time with these topics is one of the best investments you can make for your future.