Seniors, although the school year just started, graduation day is approaching sooner than you think, and you need to be prepared. This is an important year and may even be your most fun year of college. But you can't forget that soon you will be off on your own without all the resources that college gives you. Here are some tips to utilize all those college resources while they are still available and prepare you for your best life after college (other than getting a job, which you should also try to secure before leaving college):
1. Get organized
Now is the time to start getting your life together. Once you start working, you may not have the opportunity, as things will start to get busy. Start by organizing your current college life by making sure you have your class schedule together, organizing time to study, cleaning your room and creating habits that you can continue after leaving school. After work, it isn't fun to come home to a messy apartment, as you'll probably just want to relax. If you start organizing that into your schedule, the habit may stick after leaving school. Also, you'll want to get rid of the things in your room you no longer need, because it will just take up space when you move, which is sooner than you think.
2. Start healthy habits
We all know that going to the gym is a struggle, but you need to start creating a routine of doing some kind of exercise, whether it's playing a sport, lifting weights, running, anything active, just do it (not sponsored by Nike). Once you start working, it will be easy to skip the extra effort to go to work out. But if you create a routine out of it now, it may become second nature and you'll forget you're putting in the effort ... eventually. Especially for those who are going to be sitting at a desk all day, you need to make sure you're moving around a bit each day to stay healthy. On top of this, you should start eating food that is good for you. Enjoy all the late-night snacks now, but once you're older and out of college, you won't be able to burn off those calories as fast. So, slowly introduce better food options to your diet and, if you have time, learn to cook some good meals.
3. Manage your money
Being an adult is expensive: You have to pay rent and utility bills, buy food and gas, and start paying off your student loans. Six months after you graduate, those student loan bills will come, and you will be obligated to start paying them off. If you can, it might not be a bad idea to go home and save some money and pay down your debt by minimizing your spending. However, if your parents aren't too thrilled with that idea, be sure to create a budget of all your bills, including having some savings and, hopefully, spending money, so that you don't fall deeper into debt. The class of 2017 in D.C. graduated with an average of $30,775 in student loan debt. That's a lot of money, and the longer you take to pay it off, the more interest it will accrue.
4. Create business relationships
If you don't already have a LinkedIn profile, you need to create one ASAP. It is one of the best places to connect with your classmates, alumni, potential co-workers, professors and anyone else you want in your professional network. If you are looking for jobs, you can reach out to alumni that work for the companies you are applying to, which will help you learn more about the company and position, while potentially helping you get a job. Also, keeping good relationships with your professors is great for when you need those recommendations for the jobs you are applying to. You never know how your network can help you find opportunities. In 2016, LinkedIn found that 85% of people they surveyed found jobs through networking, so this is the perfect time to start strengthening those relationships.
5. Maintain meaningful friendships
One of the best parts about college is having all your friends around you. You can just walk over to their dorm at any time and hang out. Unfortunately, that will change after college, unless you are going to grad school or you somehow found an apartment building for you and all of your friends. You and your friends should make sure to have time to hang out, even if you have to travel to see each other. It sounds crazy that you won't have time and that you'd forget to call or text, but it happens. So, taking the extra time to think about how to maintain your friendships now is more important than you realize.