The 10 Best TED Talks Every Potential College Student Should Watch

best ted talks

So, you want to go to college? As you prepare to apply, pay, and pack, don’t forget to watch the 10 Best Ted Talks for the occasion. They will indeed provide you with a head start in thinking, act, and approaching situations in a way that will maximize your college experience.

1. Angela Lee Duckworth: The Key to Success? Grit

Sure, money can buy you things, looks can get you things, and brains can make you understand things, but none of these are the real ingredient for success. In this episode, Duckworth describes what it takes to get things done right: grit. After all, Lewis and Clark didn’t make it out West purely on money, beauty, or brains. They made it because of their pure, immense levels of grit. You can make it too.


2. Dan Gilbert: The Surprising Science of Happiness

Forget all the existential debates you will be exposed to in English, psychology, and philosophy. All you really need to know, about the existential qualities of happiness anyway, are explained in this episode of Ted Talks. The really great thing is that achieving happiness really only takes minimal efforts on your part. See, the brain has amazing adaptive skills and can find happiness in any situation. All you have to do is let your brain be happy instead of constantly thinking you will be happy when you get whatever it is you don’t have. Enjoy the now. Enjoy the unreachable when it becomes reachable. It’s simple…mostly.

3. Margaret Heffernan: Dare to Disagree

That’s right, in healthy college debate is much more acceptable. Odds are, you will have at least one or two classes that are structured as workshops. For example, many writing classes require peer editing of each paper and provide specific class time for discussing the paper. Not everyone will agree about the structure and content of the piece, and debating various opinions is often the purpose of that class time. Honestly listening to each side helps students create a more complete, multidimensional view of the situation that they can carry on to other parts of their personal and scholastic lives.

4. Andy Puddicombe: All it Takes is 10 Mindful Minutes

If you don’t have ADHD when you start college, you might develop similar symptoms. Between friends, teachers, classes, and recreational activities, it’s often hard to stop your brain from churning. But, the feeling of overwhelming stress can be prevented, according to Puddicombe, by taking just 10 minutes out of your day to live in the present. It doesn’t have to be yoga or meditation classes. In fact, adding such classes simply adds a further strain on your schedule and increases the amount of things you have to learn. Instead, simply take 10 minutes, in a place where you can be completely along, and take in your surroundings. One great way to force your mind to the present, Puddicombe says, is juggling.

5. Larry Smith: Why You Will Fail to Have a Great Career

For every action, there are a million excuses to stop you from taking that action. That, Smith says, is what prevents so many great people from reaching their career potential. For example, if you are a writer and see a flier for submissions you may think, no, this is for people who really know how to write, not for undergrads like me. Well, that is an excuse. Think of the boost it would give your resume if your piece did appear in the collection. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t even lose anything. It’s all these little-missed opportunities, and the excuses for not participating, that prevent people from having great careers. Get out and do!

6. Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts

Although popular culture would say otherwise, introverts do have a place in society, and it’s a very important place. Many of the best philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, and other scholars were introverts. It’s these people who take the time to reflect inward, a place where many are afraid to look. Instead of being encouraged to conform, or become more extroverted, introverts should be encouraged and supported to share their thoughts and findings with the world. Knowledge about ourselves is the key to knowing the world. So, if you are an introvert, don’t change for the world.

7. Matt Cutts: Try Something New for 30 Days

Doing the same thing day after day, week after week, semester after semester can create a one-dimensional existence. That is, if you are solely studying physics, you may take a walk and see only the equations involved in a leaf falling, or a bird flying. Cutts suggests that you make sure to add variety to your life. For example, you could try something new for thirty days. If you are a physics major, an art class might be a great way to add dimension to your life. After the class, you will certainly still see the physics involved, but you will also be able to enjoy the aesthetic beauty. Perhaps a third dimension could be added to appreciate the biology. It should be a goal to add as much dimension to your existence as possible in order to live a truly full life.

8. David Kelley: How to Build Your Creative Confidence

It’s a common theory that some people use their right side of their brain, and some use their left. Kelley says that is just not true. While people prefer to use one side or the other, both sides are accessible to anyone. All a person needs is confidence. For example, a mathematician can start developing his/her artistic talents by drawing and decorating something familiar, like the symbol pie.

9. Shane Koyczan: To This Day…For the Bullied and Beautiful

No, bullying does not stop in college. Even if it did, the effects of high school bullying remain. But, those effects do not have to be negative. The bullied can be beautiful. They can change their diet and exercise, and even have surgery to become externally beautiful, but that is not the beauty Koyczan discusses. The bullied have the potential to develop heightened senses of empathy and emotional connectedness, both of which are beautiful, rare qualities.

10. Adora Svitak: What Adults Can Learn From Kids

Just when you thought you were growing up, Svitak comes along to tell you not too. Well, of course, you should learn scholastics, manners, respect, and responsibility, but don’t lose your hopes, dreams, and optimism. Those natural qualities are the backbone of innovation and motivation.