It’s back to school time again, so we thought we should share a bit of advice and wisdom for all you students out there. School is a time for fun, sure, but it’s also time to start thinking about and working on your future. So with that in mind, here’s some of our favorite advice that every student should know.
The pressure you’ll feel is self or community imposed. All the decisions you think are completely life-changing are easily fixable if you keep your head about you and don’t fall for the trap that the major or direction you choose now is what you have to do for the rest of your life. Take your time, you don’t have to figure it all out at once.
Start good habits now
Good habits will absolutely carry through long past graduation day. So start taking your mental and physical health seriously. Work on things like eating better, getting enough sleep, reading more, and putting a productivity workflow into place (check out GTD, Pomodoro Technique, Bullet Journaling). Learn how to find your motivation and use it.
Learn how to be a good conversationalist
This skill is something that will be useful for the rest of your life. Be genuinely interested to learn about other people. Whether you’re making new friends or using your conversation skills for networking, being confident and comfortable making conversation is really important.
If you’re in college, even as a freshman – start looking into company internships NOW. They will show you what it’s really like to work for a certain type of company or industry. Use these as a try-out for potential careers. You can also talk to your guidance counselors and career centers and ask if they have any specific programs for this.
Learn money management
While it’s not taught in most schools, learning how to budget is huge. Look up personal finance (try Reddit) and how even putting $20 or $100 a month now will give you financial freedom much earlier in life – even if you’re working in a low-wage job. Don’t take on unnecessary debt. It’s easy to get sucked into putting things on a credit card, so don’t do it unless you have the means to pay it off everything month. Also, build credit as early and quickly as possible by getting a credit card and only adding 1 autopay item to it that you automatically pay off each month. If you’re worried about yourself, send it somewhere – parent, friend, etc. – if you’d be tempted to use it for unnecessary spending.
Evaluate your career/life goals
Think hard, do you actually need to be in school right now? Trades pay incredibly well and most don’t require college degrees. Your late teens and early twenties will see lots of changes. Not sure if school is for you? Take a gap year and go explore career opportunities! Education is important but school will always be there for you when the time is right.
Take responsibility for your decisions
You don’t get to blame your parents for your problems anymore. As you come of adult age, it’s time to be responsible for your thoughts and actions. You can’t blame anyone else for what happens to you from here on out. It’s up to you now to make your life as good or bad as you want it. If things aren’t going well in your life, start with numero uno and figure out what’s happening before jumping to blame outside factors. You dictate the way your life goes and you have the opportunity to make it what you want. The world doesn’t care about you enough to cause you to fail.
Evaluate all your friendships
The friendships you make during your school years will often impact your life in negative and positive ways you won’t foresee now. Toxic people can hinder you from being the best version of yourself and we talked about taking responsibility for everything earlier. Now it’s time to let that also dictate who you surround yourself with. As the saying goes, you’re the sum of the 5 people you hang with the most. So surround yourself with only good people.
Saying inappropriate things to people is something that’ll be harder to shake as you get older. Follow the 2-minute rule. Listen for approximately two minutes before interjecting into a conversation. You convey tact, have context of the subject matter, and understand the contributor’s style. Tact is a huge part of those conversationalist skills we mentioned earlier.
Get to know your professors
In your later years, good relationships with professors can lead to recommendations, research, and job opportunities. Don’t think your adjunct professors can’t help you, too. A lot of them actually work in the industry you’re interested in and teach as a side gig. Most faculty members are delighted when students visit them to ask about the readings, the course topic, or just to get to know them. Professors are required to hold office hours for students: your tuition is paying for that kind of contact. So use it!
You’ve entered an exciting and formative time in your life, so make the most of it! As we said, setting yourself up for success in the future starts now.