What I wish My College Professors Would Have Taught Me: Tardiness is Unacceptable

There are some things that can and will never be taught in the classroom. Maybe it’s because those topics are seen as too radical or have been flagged as a lawsuit risk, but truly these are the missing pieces of wisdom that leave many college grads as an incomplete puzzle with still much to figure out in the real world. In the spirit of Back-to-School, this will be a 5-part series exploring the top lessons I wish would have been included in my own college degree. It’s blunt and it’s honest, but it’s sure to be interesting.

Lesson five: Tardiness is Unacceptable

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali, 1931
The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali, 1931

I see this saying everywhere, but it has really stayed with me—

“Opportunity doesn’t go away, it goes to someone else.”

Partially due to this very saying I’ve become a huge stickler for timeliness and I first and foremost apply these standards to myself. Through experiences, both good and bad, I know that not responding to an e-mail, or message of any form, within a reasonable time frame could lose me a potential business opportunity. Applied to

another situation—showing up late to an event not only displays lack of interest, but could cost me key networking opportunities. These facts of life are ones I had to learn on my own, outside the walls of a classroom. While I was in college, it seemed as though time was irrelevant and I don’t just mean by pulling all nighters or staying out ‘til the sun came up.

Far too often I had professors who accepted late papers without even challenging the student to provide a reason. These were the same professors that would let students saunter into class fifteen, twenty, sometimes even forty minutes late carrying lattes in their hand looking anything but rushed, disheveled or apologetic.  They would walk right in front of the professor, mid-lecture, and disrupt the focus of the classroom and make us on-timers wonder why we even bothered setting our alarms if clearly there were no repercussions. So maybe this boils down to a matter of principle and respect—no matter what my underlying issue is with tardiness, I see it as worthy of deeper discussion.

I wish my college professors would have stressed the importance of timeliness, which of course goes hand-in-hand with time management. As students, we would have benefited from learning that boundaries exist and when someone who is in a position of power over us sets such a boundary, we are expected to comply. This would have taught us to be more respectful, responsible and better stewards of our time. Those college years are crucial ones. We are experimenting with both the freedoms and obligations that come with living on our own. While we may be seeking our independence, we still need reminders that we don’t make ALL of our own rules and opportunities are like college co-eds—if you don’t pay them quick enough attention, they’re on to the next person who will.

In case you missed a few “classes”, here’s some reading homework:

Lesson One: Group projects can be completed alone.

Lesson Two: It’s okay to NOT like everyone you work with.

Lesson Three: In the real world, you’re not expected to have every answer.

Lesson Four: It’s almost never about WHAT you know.