8 Things Every Student Should Learn Before Graduating

As my impending graduation looms just around the corner, I am simultaneously excited and terrified. Goodbye exams, hello real responsibility. And if that doesn’t get a “Yikes” from you, I don’t know what will. So with my time as a college student coming to an end, I am reminded of all the things I feel I should have learned (and in some cases did) prior to entering the “adult world.”

  1. 1. Taxes

    Here I sit, 21 years old, and I still don’t know how to do my own taxes. But don’t worry, I still know that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. This year, when I received my W2 from my part time job, I called my mom to ask her what to with it because I am a child. And her response was, “Bring it with you next time you come home and I’ll take care of it.” While I am ever so grateful for my mom’s help the past 21 years, what happens when I have to do it myself? In my case, my mom will probably show me. In fact, in that same phone call I told her I was going to elicit her as my financial planner forever. However, for those of you who haven’t been blessed with my mom, there are tons of tools online to help you learn about and complete your taxes!

  2. 2. Balancing a Budget

    Since we’re on the topic of money, every soon-to-be adult needs needs NEEDS to learn to balance a budget. Otherwise, you may be living with your parents (or in a cardboard box) forever. There are plenty of free apps out there to help you budget and save $$$. For example, you can download apps like Mint or Acorns to help manage your money and budget yourself accordingly. And the next time your friends want to go out, see if you can convince them to have a girls night in with your fave romcoms, snacks, and a couple cheap bottles of wine. I promise you’ll be saving more money on your couch with your besties than on your bar tab.

  3. 3. How to Say No

    Speaking of saving money, it’s important to learn how to say no. If not, it can be easy to overwork yourself. It’s okay to say no to going out with your friends. I promise that in a year you won’t remember the FOMO you felt that night. It’s okay to say no at work. Quality over quantity, right? And no, you can’t use the “Sorry, my mom said ‘No’” excuse anymore.

  4. 4. How to Register Your Car & Change a Tire

    While the process for registering a car might change slightly on a state-to-state basis, it is still an important skill to have. Make sure you have the necessary information, documents, etc. before heading to the DMV to wait in a too long line. In addition, while I have never had to change a tire, I do know that you’re supposed to take the lug nuts off and tighten them in a cross or star-pattern. (Disclaimer: I called them bolts until I Googled it to see if this fact was true). So, if you don’t know how, you can find millions of how-to videos online. Just be glad that we have the internet to help us.

  5. 5. Cooking

    While I’m not calling myself the next Top Chef, I am telling you it is important to learn how to make more than just cereal and milk, microwave meals, and ramen. And trust me, if you’re eating out and ordering food more often than not, your bank account will be crying more than it already is. Not sure where to start? Pinterest has every type of recipe you can imagine: healthy, comfort food, crockpot, 30 minute, sweet, savory.. the list goes on. There is a recipe for everyone’s tastes. And if you're not a good cook, my mom has a sign in her kitchen with some words to live by: "When in doubt, add more wine."

  6. 6. The Difference Between a Wrench and Pliers

    I am no handyman, that’s for sure. But I can tell you that when I managed to take my sink’s pipe apart to unclog the drain (which was totally disgusting) WITHOUT calling my dad for help, I felt like an independent #bosslady who doesn’t need a man. The point is, just learn your way around a toolbox and you’ll be set—at least for now!

  7. 7. Organization

    Unfortunately, stuffing my paperwork in a storage bin under my bed is not an efficient way to organize documents, among other things. From clothes to paperwork, the difference between and organized room and an unorganized room can make or break productivity. If you’re not into keeping documents, or you frequently loose them, you can scan important documents and organize them on an external hard drive. But make sure to keep a back-up! You never know when your electronics will decide to give-up on you.

  8. 8. Professionalism

    Finally, as we enter the working world, it is extremely important to know how to present yourself professionally. As a freshman, joining a sorority helped me to learn what business attire looks like. And luckily, I was a student at the Shidler College of Business, so professionalism was drilled into my brain. However, it still amazes me the number of people who don’t know what professionalism looks like—from attire to mannerisms. So if you’re still not sure how to dress and act in the workplace, check out your school’s career center for workshops, mock-interviews, and more!

Don't get me wrong, there are tons more skills we need to learn as we enter the "adult world," but at least it's a start! Good luck in post-grad life, collegiettes!