The Real World. These seemingly innocuous words have somehow managed to strike fear into the hearts of college students everywhere for decades – nay, centuries – and it’s high time something was done about it! I propose that facing your fears head on is always the best plan of attack. Although it is never easy to make an important life change (and what could be bigger than embarking upon adulthood?), with the proper tools at your disposal, you can ease the transition considerably and make “the real world” just another place you’ll journey to.
To begin, you should talk to your career counselor (well before graduation would be smart). Find out what jobs are available in your chosen field and if you can take advantage of internships to help you get a foot in the door (and possibly a job offer by the time you graduate). Unless you formulate Newton’s Fourth Law of Motion or design a game that’s better than Halo, chances of recruiters banging down your door are slim to none. So use the resources at your disposal to ensure every opportunity for success after graduation. Having a job, being able to support yourself, is the biggest part of life in the real world.
The next biggest part (and the least fun, by far) is paying bills. What, you thought you would get to keep your paycheck?! Well, in truth, a sound budget can mean that a portion of your money goes to something more fun than the electric bill. So learn to manage your money now, while you still have some to play with. If you don’t know the first thing about balancing a bankbook, much less budgeting, see if your campus is one of the many that offers financial planning or advice. At the very least, your counselor should be able to direct you to an off-site professional that works with students. Formulating a budget is a life skill, so don’t overlook it!
One last thing: it’s never too soon to start earning credit. You’re going to need a credit score (preferably a good one) if you want to lease an apartment, buy a car, and eventually buy a house, so get a credit card. Can’t qualify for one? Go to your bank and ask if they offer a secure credit card. You will have to hand over some money initially (a check for $500, say) that the bank will hold as collateral (you are, after all, a risk). If you use your credit responsibly (pay in full each month), at the end of the year you will get to keep the card (probably with an increased spending limit) and they will return your original money (plus interest). A secure credit card is a great way for people with no credit to start off on the right foot.
The real world can seem like a scary place to the uninitiated. But your parents forged it before you and their parents before them, so rest assured, you can do it, too. True, you are facing a host of challenges that previous generations never even dreamed of, but you also have a whole new world of technology to help you on your way. My final bit of advice is this: have a good attitude! This, more than anything, will help you face the tough times head on and adjust admirably to life in the real world.
This is a guest post by Alexis Montgomery, a content writer for Online Degree Programs, where you can browse through various online degree programs to find a college that suits your needs.