5 Ways DECA Prepared Me for College

One, two, three, four…how can I pick only five ways, when there are so many more?

Writing this article proved more difficult than I expected it to be, because there are so many aspects to my college experience (as in, almost every one of them) that have been shaped by my time in DECA. DECA has completely changed my view of the world, so picking only five ways it has prepared me for college seems to undercut the vital role this organization has played—and still plays—in my life. So without further ado, here are the (top) five ways DECA has prepared me for my time at Vanderbilt University.

People Are Just People

Through DECA, we all have opportunities to network with people from all corners of the world, with amazing accomplishments. Be it judges who are experts in their own sectors, or members and competitors with the next big idea, everyone in this organization brings something unique, noteworthy and maybe even a little intimidating to the table. Being exposed to such incredible, raw talent throughout my high school career taught me how to stay cool and collected when I walk into a professor’s office, or when I go to lunch with the president of an on-campus organization. DECA taught me what it means to respect and learn from everyone around me and create an atmosphere of mutual respect and admiration.

How to Get the A

Within DECA, we have a strong focus on being academically prepared, and this has undoubtedly propelled my own college success. Classes with presentations and long papers seem completely manageable from my competition experiences, and interviews (even on technical components of management or marketing) are a breeze from my studies for DECA exams. Moral of the story? Studying for your competitive events won’t just land you with a piece of DECA glass and time on stage, they’ll also prepare you for what comes AFTER high school.

Finding Balance – And Keeping It

You might be able to guess…I was pretty into DECA in high school, and between my time with this organization, balancing a full course load, a varsity sport, a social life and sleep, I learned quickly how to beat stress and manage my time when there seemed to be too few hours in the day. My days here at Vandy are certainly no-less booked, but they seem manageable because DECA taught me how to make every minute count during the busiest of times.

Learning to Adult (At Least a Little) 

As a DECA member, association officer and now as an executive officer, DECA has always meant a lot of traveling. Whether it was figuring out how to feed myself, or calming down before a big presentation, or getting a stain out of my blazer at the last minute, DECA never just meant learning “business” to me. It meant a lot of learning about the things I didn’t even know I was learning until I got to college, and had to start doing a lot more taking care of myself. I don’t think that transition would have been nearly as easy without my experiences in DECA before I got here.

All of the Little Things I Can’t Quite Put Into Words

This is my way of saying there are way more aspects to what I learned in DECA than I can ever vocalize in a single article. DECA taught me to be flexible and to live in the moment and how to make friends who are so vastly different from who I am but also so amazing.

DECA prepared me for college, but it also inspired me to make the most of my time here—because most of all, DECA prepared me with the knowledge that when you give anything your all, it gives back to you.

Follow Hayley on Twitter @decavphayley.

Categories: Choosing A College, Choosing A Major, College, College Career Advice

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