Graduating college is a huge milestone for many students. Not only does it mark the end of a four year (give or take) journey, but it also marks the beginning of careers, professional pathways, and opportunities to be a ‘real’ adult.
Some students see graduating college as a time to celebrate because having a diploma labeled with your educational achievements should be enough to help you create a stable life, right? If only it were that easy.
You see, there is so much more that takes place after graduation. Although your college courses teach you about the ins and outs of the field you are interested in, there are plenty of things they either skim over or ignore completely, leaving you to figure out adulthood by yourself.
Don’t get me wrong… I think that professors and schools do a great job of teaching the required material to get a college degree, as well as provide awesome support and resources that you probably wouldn’t get elsewhere, but I can’t help but feel as though I would have been better off if they would have taught me some other things before I was done.
How Important Networking and Connections Truly Are
I think a lot of students end up graduating college with an idea that they will easily be able to find a job in their degree field because they have a diploma to their name. Yes, the extra credentials do help, but the reality is that there are tons of new graduates entering the workforce at the same time and they are vying for the same positions as you.
Although several schools do offer great networking opportunities, it would be helpful for students to take a course on networking and establishing professional connections before graduating college. I can imagine students learning about:
- How to make connections on LinkedIn
- Finding relevant conferences and meetings to each student’s major
- How to interact with professionals in the field
- Networking etiquette
If students spent a bit more time on establishing solid professional connections, then they could have a solid base of contacts to reach out to when it came time to enter the workforce.
Important Life Skills That Are Needed After Graduating College
So much time is spent on learning the material and developing research projects that one of the most important things that helps adults be successful is overlook – and that’s life skills.
A lot of students learn life skills through their parents, but there are a large group of young adults that still don’t have a good grasp on concepts like:
- Money management (including paying off student loans)
- Finding affordable housing
- Living within your means
- Building credit
Before graduating college, students should research jobs and their potential salaries, then use that information to formulate a budget based on that given salary. Online calculators can be used to estimate student loan payments, in addition to the amount of taxes that will be deducted from each paycheck based on estimated salary information (Paycheck City is a great resource for this).
Be Creative with the Skills You’ve Learned
There seems to be this underlying assumption that if you major in journalism, then you have to be a journalist or reporter somewhere. The same can be said for a variety of majors, but the truth is that you’ve learned a ton of new skills by graduating college and those skills can be utilized in more ways than you can imagine.
Sure, the obvious solution is to find a job that relates to the degree you chose, but if you see your dreams moving elsewhere, don’t be afraid to get creative and use those skills to get a job in a different field. For example, there are tons of psychology graduates who work in the corporate world by filling consulting jobs. Additionally, a statistics major may find themselves working in the press box at a major league sporting event rather than in a lab somewhere.
The whole idea is to not sell yourself short. Odds are that you can do much more with your degree than you initially thought!
If You Want to See Change, Then Be the Change
This might be the most important thing that students should understand before graduating college. We live in a very self-centered culture where we often put our needs before others. We see people struggle day in and day out and often wonder how we can help them, but then we just assume that someone else will help that person or speak up so that change is made.
We need to stop having that mindset.
If a person wants to see change, then they need to be the change in the world. All it takes is a simple act of kindness or an act of bravery to speak up and say something to make change happen.
The world needs students who are graduating college, and everyone for that matter, to see that one person is capable of making a difference!
Other Things Students Who Are Graduating College Should Know
- Life is oftentimes not fair, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying
- Know your local resources and have a list on-hand in case you ever need to use them
- Create a list of trusted workers in the area who can perform home improvements in case something breaks and you don’t know how to fix it
- Truly understand health insurance and how to make sure you have appropriate coverage
Your turn! What would you add to this list?