Five Ways to Prepare for Life after College During College
- Student Tips
Getting into college represents the “brass ring” for many students. After all, we spend so much time planning for and working toward the goal of getting into a good college, that when it finally arrives it’s easy to get lost in it. And while it’s true that college can feel like an all-encompassing magical universe of its own, it’s also true that your college days will eventually come to an end, and that there’s a real world waiting out there waiting for you. Are you ready for it? These five steps can help ensure that you’re prepared to hit the ground running.
1. Get a college job.
You may not feel like you’ve got time to add a job in on top of all of your other commitments, but life is about finding balance -- so why not start learning how to juggle your academic, personal, and professional commitments sooner than later?
In addition to learning the art of time management and making money, you’ll also acquire professional skills which can help you both land a full-time job when you graduate and succeed in it once you’re on the payroll.
2. Make money management part of your education.
Many students remain financially dependent on their parents throughout college. While this may mean a footloose and fancy-free existence in the short-term, it can have dire long-term consequences if you don’t learn how to manage your finances before striking out on your own.
Taking a closer look at your spending habits while in college can help you understand a number of vital things, including budgeting, the difference between wants and needs, and personal responsibility. Many schools offer free counseling to help you get a handle on your finances. Taking advantage of these services can help you get off to the best start while avoiding compounding money woes. While you may not end up a millionaire before 20 (although who’s to say you won’t?), you can lay the groundwork for a bright financial future.
3. Have a full medical checkup.
College students may feel young and invincible, but this feeling won’t last forever -- nor will the convenient ease and access offered by a university health clinic. Plus, making a commitment to proactive health now is a vital preventative measure for lifelong health. So schedule an appointment for a checkup today. At the least, you’ll gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re a specimen of perfect health.
4. Get involved in a student organization.
Do you want to watch life pass by from the sidelines, or do you want to be part of something larger than yourself? While many people go through their lives without making a real difference, college offers a perfect opportunity to step in and contribute to meaningful change.
Making friends, learning teamwork, and building character are just a handful of the benefits of joining a campus group near and dear to your heart. If possible, take on a leadership role. Not only does doing so help you grow even more as a person, but it also looks terrific on a resume or graduate school application.
5. Build connections.
Meeting new people is part of the college experience. While this comes naturally to some people, it can be harder for others. Putting in the time and effort is well worth it, however -- not just in terms of friendship (although that’s a major part of it) but also in terms of the exponential nature of connections, particularly in the age of social media.
If you ever find yourself looking for an “in” at a particular company or relocating to a new city and in need of a house share, you’ll be grateful to have a broad network of contacts to call upon.
6. Contact your school’s career service.
Your university’s career services office offers a breadth and depth of services aimed at helping students just like you find jobs, including everything from interview workshops to alumni databases. Resolve to take advantage of these resources today. If you feel too proud or nervous to ask for help, meanwhile, keep in mind that it’s also in your school’s best interest to have gainfully employed graduates.
College doesn’t just exist in a vacuum, although it can often feel that way. Taking these five steps can help ensure that you’re ready to embrace the much larger world awaiting you after graduation.
Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.