I’m graduating in less than a week and I’M FREAKING OUT. In order to procrastinate from studying and packing, I’ve decided to share a list of things you should learn before you graduate from college! Honestly, these are things you should learn sooner than college. Like in high school, if possible, or even earlier. Personally, I think they should start teaching this kind of adulting stuff in elementary school, but maybe I’m too ambitious. If you’re like me and you’re about to graduate, make sure you’ve got these skills mastered!
Time management is much harder than it sounds. If you’ve worked a part-time job while in college full-time, odds are you’re already really comfortable managing your time wisely. On the other hand, if you’re not used to having to strictly monitor your own days, you might what to consider working on that before you leave college. Dorm life provides a lot of structure in the form of quiet hours and eating times in the dining hall. Once you’re out on your own, you’ll be responsible for your own commutes, meal times, and work! (Pro-tip: Go to bed early! For real.)
Write Professional Emails
As a writing tutor and English major, it physically pains me to see someone struggling to compose a basic email. I know writing isn’t everyone’s thing, but emails are like glorified texts nowadays. Writing formal emails to professors or employers aren’t as scary as they sound! Don’t overthink it! Make sure you always use professional greetings and be sure to sign your name and contact information at the bottom! For more tips, check out this article.
I’m lucky enough to have been able to travel to quite a few places in my short lifetime! I was flying independently from a very young age, and I’ve navigated foreign airports and train stations on my own for years now! However, you don’t have to fly to Europe to hone your lone ranger travel skills. I’m preparing to move to a new city next week, and these skills are super helpful when navigating new landscapes and environments. You can start small by traveling to a nearby town for the day, or taking a road trip home for the weekend. These trips will help you gain much-needed independence! For more tips on traveling independently, check out my post on traveling cheaply in your twenties!
Let’s be real: only crazy people enjoy public speaking. It’s actually the worst. But it’s such a useful skill, you should do your best to be a competent public speaker before leaving school! Just this last weekend I hosted a launch party for my literary magazine in which I had to introduce all of the speakers. I learned afterward that my neck and cheeks were so red, a completely unconscious bodily reaction to my nervousness. Preparedness and practice are the only ways to get better! If you can, I recommend taking on leadership positions in college to help build your confidence and speaking skills!
It hurts me to admit that until very recently, I was an incompetent clothes ironer. The iron seemed way too advanced for someone like me who can’t even handle separating my clothes when I do laundry. All the different settings? And how do I avoid getting burned?! I finally caved and bought an iron, and honestly, I have no idea why it took me this long. (Pro-tip: buy a mini-steamer for your delicate clothes)
Create a Cover Letter + Resume
Graduating college means getting a job (hopefully). Whether you’re applying to a fancy internship or the pizza place down the street, you’re going to need a cover letter and resume. Here are my tips on completing your resume while in college! Don’t forget that your part-time jobs, projects, and college leadership roles all count as experience in the real world! Your college career center is also a great resource for going over cover letter tips and job search materials. I suggest you start getting all your professional CV’s together in your last year of college, but it never hurts to start early! (Pro-tip: Canva has some STUNNING resume design templates!)
Going away to college meant my parents no longer took care of my doctors/dentists/etc appointments. At first, this was liberating! Hurray, nobody is forcing me to go to the dentist every six months! I thought I was really sticking it to the man! Turns out, these appointments weren’t really optional! Don’t worry, I did make it to the dentist sooner rather than later, and now I’m a pro at keeping my schedule under control! Part of being an adult means knowing how to take care of your own problems as they arise. The best way to handle this is to have a plan before you graduate! If you have a car, make sure you have a go-to auto place you trust! The same goes for pharmacists, doctors, dentists, therapists, etc.
Okay, I’m not saying you need to be a world renowned chef. You don’t even have to be okay. But you should be competent enough to make a few different types of meals. And no, using the microwave does not count as cooking. Here are a few meals that I think are worth knowing how to cook if you wish to qualify as a real adult before you graduate:
- Steamed veggies
- Noodle Soup
- Tacos (IMPORTANT!)
- Rice and beans
- (Pro-tip: Buy a crock pot. You’re welcome.)
How to Save Money
Let’s be real, college is expensive. If you’ve made it this far without learning how to budget your finances, then I pray for you. When was the last time you checked your bank account? Do you have a savings account? Does said savings account have more than $20 in it (NO SHAME we have ALL been there)? If you answered yes to all of these questions, congratulations! You’re a money saving genius, take that Wall Street! If you answered no, don’t panic! College isn’t exactly affordable, but there are some steps you can take before you graduate to help ease the strain on your wallet! Here are some tips on saving money in college.
This is separate from saving money since remembering to pay bills on time is a whole separate pain! It’s embarrassing the number of times I have accidentally paid a bill late because I either thought I already paid or I simply forgot about it! Living in the dorms, it’s likely you don’t have to remember to pay any monthly bills. Living in an off-campus apartment is a rude awakening. I’ve got rent on the 1st of each month, my credit card on the 6th, utilities on the 11th, and cable/the internet on the 31st. It seems like every time I pay a bill, I get another one in the mail. Whether you need to keep a reminder on your phone or set up automatic payments, you’ll need to figure out the best way for you (and your roommates) to handle bills regularly!
Skills to Learn Before You Graduate
If you’re about to graduate like me, congratulations! If you’ve still got a ways to go, enjoy your time while it lasts! Practical skills like these are easy to overlook, but they make a major difference in the “real world” everyone talks about! What skills do you think all college grads should know?