This is a guest post by Norman Arvidsson, an experienced entrepreneur, coach, and tutor from Atlanta. He writes mostly about motivation, e-learning, digital marketing, entrepreneurship, and blogging.
So, you’re about to graduate. You’ve got those hard skills for your career and have probably picked up some of those “soft” skills too – you know the ones like “team player,” “able to take initiative,” etc.
What you don’t realize, though, is that there are plenty of college habits you picked up that will do you well out in that cruel, real world.
Here’s eight of them.
1. Looking for the Deals.
Remember all of that getting online to print out coupons, groupons, etc.? You became a master of knowing when pizza was “buy one get one free,” or what bars had a free snack buffet during happy hour. You learned to scavenge for free or highly discounted food and drink. You also learned how to use resale stores to furnish that apartment or dorm room extras, for clothes, for dishes, etc.
Nothing has changed.
When you get your first job and you have all of the “big boy and big girl” expenses (rent, utilities, paying for your own Wi-Fi), along with monthly student loan repayments, you will be happy that you know how to live “on the cheap” in other ways.
If you have a formal event and nothing to wear, rent rather than buy. There are lots of local places or online sites that will rent event clothing – RentTheRunway, and LendingLuxury is just two examples.
Here’s another thought: If your student ID does not have an expiration date on it, use it for as long as you can – there are lots of discounts out there, and you probably already know about them.
2. Creative Ways to Grab Some Extra Cash.
Most of us have found ourselves in financially tough times in college and we found ways to make a little extra.
Maybe we cleaned rooms, wrote papers for other students, walked dogs, hired ourselves out for painting, lawn care or handyman work. This does not have to stop once you have a “real” job.
If you want extras, if you need more money to meet student loan debt, then you are already in the habit of juggling classes, homework, social life, and part-time work.
That habit forced you to organize and schedule your time, so keep that habit and do what it takes. Do some research on the best sites for freelance work and find “gigs” that fit your skills and schedule.
If you are a good writer, you could research a list of the top writing services and apply as a writer. The hours are flexible, you can work as much or as little as you want, and do it all at home in your “grubs.”
3. Living with Others.
Okay. So, this may not have been your favorite part of college life, or it may have been great! Usually, living successfully with a roommate depend on your compatibility.
Explore your options. There are all sorts of sites that “match” roommates like they do love interests.
Do a bit of research, meet up with some prospects, and if you think it will work, do it. Think of the expenses that are now cut in half – rent, utilities, Wi-Fi, even food. If you are in the habit of having a roommate and have found it fine, you can just continue that habit.
4. Learning to Prioritize.
We’ve all been there. Five papers are due within the next month. You’ll get the all finished, but some will certainly be better than others. You learn to prioritize.
Which paper is the most important to keep that course grade up? Which is next? Which one can you do a pretty mediocre job on without affecting your final grade too much?
And you learned to do the same things with other coursework assignments. You’ve developed skills in prioritizing, in juggling multiple tasks at the same time, and “keeping all of those balls in the air.”
Think about it all – five courses and resulting assignments, maybe a part-time job, a social life of some sort, co-curricular activities, and taking care of all those basic personal chores like cleaning and laundry.
You actually juggled a lot and made it through just fine. Prioritizing and juggling are a part of every adult life, and you’ve had plenty of practice.
5. You’re a Master Researcher.
If you have a Bachelor’s degree, you’ve had four years of conducting research, some of it pretty deep.
You may be in a job that requires the same. But even if you are not, good research skills mean that you look at multiple sources, you are able to dig, and you sort out the facts and data you find.
Now you can put that habit to use as you look toward major purchases – a car, that wide-screen TV you want, and possibly a house and mortgage.
You know how to dig, how to get the facts, and how to compare. This is yet another of the college habits that will also come in handy as you look at insurance costs – health, car, home, and life.
And if you do own a car or home, you know how to research repairs and remodeling and find the right information and videos to show you how. Many bucks can be saved becoming a bit of a “do-it-yourselfer.”
Most important, you know that you can and should do such research – it’s become a habit.
Okay. So, this may not have been a strength for every college student.
But if you were on student loans, divvied out twice a year, and had earned money during the summers for other expenses, you had to make that money last. You probably made some budgeting mistakes, but you learned and got better.
By the time you graduated, you were pretty good at juggling and learning to hold off purchases to make your money last.
In the “big boy and girl world,” these same college habits will carry over. The amounts may be larger, but the principles are the same.
You have probably developed a habit of deferring your gratification, at least some, and that is a good thing. Sometimes, you will have to make some tough financial decisions, but if you have the habit of being moderate with expenditures and watching your wallet, you will do better than most.
7. Pursuing Experiences, Not Things.
If college students develop one habit universally, it is the pursuit of great experiences.
It may be a weekend road trip, some great parties, football games, a spring break trip, or any number of other activities. College students tend not to be too consumed with things, except perhaps for tech gear.
The same goes for traveling. If you want to go away for some time after you graduate, you’ll do anything you can to make it happen.
This habit of buying experiences rather than things is a good one.
Think about growing up. Do you remember all of the Christmas and birthday gifts you got or do you remember the family trips to Disney World or the beach? These are what build memories, not that new TV you had to have for Christmas as a teen.
The other things you will remember about college are the activities your pursued and the friendships you made.
If you have developed a habit of being “involved,” you will do the same thing once out in the world. If you volunteered for Habitat for Humanity during college, chances are you will do it or something similar afterward. You may have tutored elementary children – chances are you will find something like this to do now.
If you played tennis or swam, these activities will be holdovers, and you will find the right means to keep pursuing them. This will increase your quality of life, especially when work becomes stressful.
8. Speaking of Stress.
You dealt with a lot of stress in college – cramming for exams, meeting deadlines for complex assignments, worrying about grades, money, relationships.
There were some tough times. You found ways to deal with that stress – whether it was physical exercise, finding your own quiet place, Yoga, meditation, talking things out with someone, etc.
By the time you graduated, you knew what worked for you.
Now, you have the right methods for dealing with your stress and you know exactly what to do when those tough times hit at work or elsewhere.
You are More Prepared Than You Know.
Yes, the real world can hit you smack in the face. After four years of college living, you now have to take the next step in independence, as a fully self-reliant and independent adult. It can be a bit scary, and you will make some mistakes. But, you are far better prepared than you think you are. Having developed these eight college habits, you’ll find the reality of adult life not so frightful.