I wrote an article for Wired, about some of the fastest growing jobs and how to prepare for them in college. Part of this Education 2.0 package was an article by Natali Del Conte about which social networking tools students should use.
In general I think college kids should prepare for the work world by learning to make friends with a wide range of people on campus and lay off the books. But maybe that’s because I found that the time I was getting straight A’s in college was the time I was learning the least.
Ode magazine has a great little article this month about the importance of generosity. A study that has been following people since the 1920s reveals that your ability to give to others is a big indicator of how happy your life will be. (Paul Wink of Wellesley College, oversees the study today, and he wrote a book about it, In the Course of a Lifetime.)
One of the most interesting findings is that teens who scored high on generosity were healthier and happier half a century later. So the best advice about what to do in college might be to develop a strong ability to give.
Like all positive traits in this world, we think we have more of it than we do. (A great example of this phenomenon: Business Week reports that 90% of young workers think their performance is in the top 10% of all workers.)
These are five traits that people who are givers usually exhibit:
1. A sense that you can make a difference in the world
2. Empathy that enables you to truly feel the suffering of others
3. Belief that you are someone who can get things done
4. Spiritual faith in the world – -either traditional religion or an eclectic altruism
5. A focus on doing good that endures beyond your lifetime
Even if you don’t have these traits, the good news is that you can just start giving, and you might get these traits as you go. Try doing five acts of altruistic giving in one day – it’ll shift your outlook, according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology at University of California at Riverside,
So maybe the best thing college kids can do for themselves is go to class less and help people more. And this is probably true for those of us going to work each day, as well. After all, when it comes to crafting a life, spending time on what really matters is half the battle.