6 things to know to prepare for life after college

Preparing for Life after College

by Lorneth Fahie-Peters

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As an Academic Advisor in higher education, I have witnessed students transitioning from college to what we consider "The Real World." These students usually owe over 20,000 dollars in student loans and have limited work experience in their field of interest. If you are a college student, parent or friend, read this article to find out practical ways of transitioning into "The Real World" and preparing for life after college.

  1. Stay two steps ahead of your peers. College is a fun time, but I always remind students to think about their future. Since landing a job has become more challenging, students must not only have an education but also some practical experience. To gain experience, college students should intern during their sophomore, junior and senior years. Interning will help build a competitive resume while helping a student decide their likes and dislikes of a job. Additionally, start working on your resume during your Freshman year and add material to your resume every semester.
  2. Save for the future. With limited income, most college students don't take the time to save money. I always encourage Freshmen students to open a bank account and deposit a minimum of $15 monthly. Sophomore students are encouraged to deposit a minimum of $20 each month. Juniors should deposit a minimum of $25 while Seniors should deposit a minimum of $30 monthly. Always open an account that automatically provides you with monthly interest.
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  4. Join a professional organization. Take advantage of the student rates offered to college students by joining a professional organization within your field of interest. This will provide you with new connections, a better understanding of your major, and unannounced job opportunities.
  5. Avoid debt. Learning to live on a budget and doing without certain expenses will make the transition into life after college much easier. I continue to see college students with new cars, cell phones, and computers. All these things are good to have, but do you really need to purchase a new vehicle that requires monthly car and insurance payments? Purchase a used vehicle that can get you from point A to B and get a pay as you go cell phone, unless a family plan with your parents is cheaper.
  6. Spend some time visualizing and writing down your goals for the future. According to Dave Kohl, a professor at Virginia Tech University, people who regularly write down their goals earn nine times as much over their lifetimes as people who don't. The students that I advise are always asked to complete a collage. On the collage, they are told to glue pictures that represent where they would like to be in a few years. This exercise has helped my students visualize their dreams and I encourage you to do the same exercise.
  7. Grade Point Averages (GPA) do matter. It's very important to have a good GPA, according to a study completed by Careerbuilder. The study found that 6% of employers do accept below a 2.5 GPA while 31% require a GPA of 3.0 or above. Additionally, the study found that students interested in business services, investment banking, consulting, technology, engineering, accounting and health care majors will need to pay more attention to their GPA. To earn a high GPA, spend as much time as possible studying. Visit the tutoring center at your school for free help.

Following the steps provided above will not guarantee you a job after college. The information provided will equip you to face the challenges of the workforce. I always say that a degree does not guarantee you a job, but it does provide opportunities.

Lorneth Fahie-Peters is currently an Academic Counselor at Austin Peay State University. For many years, she has provided college students with essential information for reaching their goals. Feel free to reach her by email here.

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