6 Important Life Skills You’ll Need After College Graduation

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Practical Skills You’ll Wish You Learned in College…

If you’re like many young adults who recently graduated college, you may find yourself suddenly scrambling to figure out simple daily-life tasks. Important life skills that your parents and grandparents took for granted.

Like: how to sew a button, write a check (and why), drive a stick shift, or write a thank-you letter.

You may be thinking, I’m a college graduate. Why don’t I know these things?

college age woman looking confused

Don’t panic!

Your knowledge gap is largely due to the fact that you’re one of the first generations to grow up heavily exposed to automation. In the decades between DIY and AI, routine learning of many basic life skills (where no digital knowledge is required) seems to have gotten lost.

But:

I’m here to help with the things you probably didn’t learn in college but should really know how to do.

Here are six practical skills you’ll find very useful as you venture out on your own:

1. Balancing a Budget

Some people take budgets for granted, while others ignore them entirely. But there’s both an art and a science to creating a budget that works.

Aside from just ensuring that you have enough money to pay bills on time, a budget helps you to:

• Track your spending habits and find the areas where there’s room for improvement.

• Save for an emergency. One car accident, hospital stay, or even a can’t-pass-it-up opportunity, can deplete your finances. It’s always smart to keep savings to cushion you from surprises.

• Build money for retirement. The traditional workplace pensions your grandparents received have all but gone extinct. However, there are plenty of independent options you can explore. It’s never too early to start planning and saving!

• Develop long-term goals and bring them to fruition. Whether it’s owning your own home or taking that dream trip through Asia, willpower and planning are key. A budget is where you begin.

You don’t want to find yourself with insurmountable debt before you reach your 30th birthday. Learning to budget is the first step to securing your financial future.

2. Paying Bills (Like an Adult)

Years ago:

Adults had to wait for a bill to arrive in the mail, write a check, and mail it back to the company that sent the bill.

Today, that’s all changed because companies generally offer electronic payment options.

Still:

It’s not quite as simple as hitting a button and sending money through cyberspace. There are some common pitfalls to be aware of.

Before clicking that Pay Now button, be sure to:

• Make sure the amount is correct. It sounds dumb, but you need to check bills when they come because they’re not always correct. Companies make mistakes — and they’re often not in your favor!

• Check your bank balance. Overdrawing your bank account is a headache and a half due to costly bank fees. 

• Pay your bills on time. Like overdraft penalties, late fees aren’t cheap. They’re easily avoided if you pay attention, though. Set up automatic reminders on your calendar or use a bill tracker to make sure you never miss a due date.

Monitoring bills is one of the more important life skills you’ll need to know how to do.

Because:

If you don’t learn how to do this correctly, you could find yourself in a heap of financial trouble sooner rather than later.

3. Relocating to a New City

If you lived off-campus in college, you might’ve developed somewhat of an idea of how to run a household on your own.

However:

A first-time concept for most young adults is uprooting that household to move to a new city.

Learning how to assess locations of interest, finding an apartment before moving, avoid moving scams, negotiating rent, signing a lease, and setting up utility accounts are all important life skills to have.

And:

Choosing the right city is an important first step. You should know what to look for in terms of affordability and job opportunities in your chosen field/s.

For instance, Charlotte is an ideal location for young professionals; it’s a trendy up-and-coming city with lots of room for professional growth — and plenty of fun, too.

Whatever city you decide on:

You’ll need to understand how to get around once you’re there. Not every place offers reliable public transportation, and you can’t count on bike, or driver-friendly, roads.

City living isn’t always like pulling into your parents’ suburban driveway or navigating the parking lot at school.

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4. Making Use of the Post Office

If you learned while growing up how to process most transactions online, you may find yourself confused when it comes to using the tried-and-true U.S. Postal Service.

You might even wonder why you’d need to use the post office at all. Nearly everything is at your fingertips online and there are other package delivery services you could use.

While the good ol’ USPS might seem outdated, it still has its purposes.

It might surprise you to know that in 2018, it came to light many young adults neglected to mail in their absentee ballots for a recent election because they had no idea where to buy a stamp.

It really pays to familiarize yourself with the USPS.

Sometimes you’ll run into a client, landlord, or official person who doesn’t accept payments or documents electronically. Snail mail will be your only option.

(Hint: If you don’t know where to get stamps, you can get them at the post office counter, numerous places online, in grocery and convenience stores, and at many other locations).

5. Safeguarding Your Sensitive Information

In our society, there’s an incredible amount of data being generated every day. According to recent statistics, a whopping 90% of the data online has been created since 2016!

With so much sensitive information flowing around — be it proprietary data at work or personal identification or financial information at home — it’s imperative to know how to safeguard your data.

Finding secure ways to access and store data in the cloud is an extremely practical skill. And, it’s one that will become even more important in the future.

6. Productive Face-to-Face Conversations

Most of us communicate with friends and family by text, chat, social media, and other electronic forms of contact.

But:

As you branch out into your professional life, you’re going to quickly discover the importance of face-to-face communication. I’m not referring to chatting over FaceTime, SnapChat, or another app.

What face-to-face communication means is being in the same room with people, looking them in the eyes, listening to what they have to say, and replying verbally with your own thoughts. Ideally in an even informative, back-and-forth manner.

Take the time to learn how to listen to people, respond appropriately, and follow body language and other nonverbal signals. It’s not always as straightforward as it seems.

Sounds like a lot of work, right?

Maybe, but it’s well worth it. The art of communication is one of the most important sets of life skills for college students that you can cultivate. It will serve you well in not just in your career, but also every other area of your entire life.


Final Thoughts on Life Skills for College Students After Graduation

Getting out on your own and taking the next step in your life’s journey is exciting!

Plus:

The years after graduation are when you’re expected to experiment. You’re still getting a handle on the whole adulting thing.

So don’t worry if you make mistakes along the way. But, do be sure to start nailing down the basic skills of life you haven’t mastered yet.

Gaining practical, real-world knowledge, and experience will help you succeed when you put it into practice!

Read about other practical life skills:


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6 important life skills graduating college students need


6 Important Life Skills for Post-Grad College Students

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