Your college years are when you acquire knowledge that will set you up for a successful future; in addition to what you learn in tutorials and lectures, there are some invaluable life skills you should strive to master during your college years. Do you know how to network? What about how to handle money? Can you get along with difficult roommates and colleagues?
Master all of these skills to make the college experience more enjoyable – and to set yourself up for a rewarding career once you graduate.
Here’s a brief primer on three essentials that every college student needs to learn.
1. How to Network
Besides credentials and college degrees, a dynamic social network is an essential component toward seizing opportunities in college and beyond. Knowing how to network is pivotal to advancing your career.
Take advantage of social events and networking opportunities that come your way. Once there, smile, circulate and introduce yourself. Practice your handshake.
And here’s a tip: think outside the box and encounter a variety of people.
If you never thought of yourself as athletic, try talking to people who are. If you meet exchange students studying on a visa, ask them about their country. Branching out can make a difference!
And networking is more than establishing contact – it’s about maintaining that contact. Don’t be shy about exchanging emails or corresponding with someone you met on LinkedIn.
Another great tip: if you meet people successful in a field you’re interested in, ask to meet them over coffee so you can pick their brain about their experiences. Many successful adults are happy to share their knowledge.
2. How to Handle Money
This one is vital because if you handle money poorly, you can end up in serious financial trouble that takes years to recover from.
First of all, be wary of student credit cards! Too many college students are lured by (initially) low interest rates that can increase capriciously. Many students are also victims of unnecessary loans.
Saving money is also important; it’s always good to have something in the bank. For example, if you locate a great unpaid internship, your savings will enable you to take it and work without pay for a while.
The best way to begin a responsible financial strategy is to talk to someone who, first, knows you and your financial situation and, second, has had experience in managing a budget. Your parents are a logical resource.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to them (perhaps you are in arrears and prefer your parents didn’t know), try other relatives, parents of friends, a counselor at school, or… a bank. A considerate bank employee will want to establish a professional relationship and will walk you through the details of maintaining an account. (Just remember that credit cards can be fiscal quicksand!)
3. How to Get Along with Roommates
Living with other people can be a blast, but if it’s your first time, you may find yourself on a steep learning curve when it comes to human relations. The first trick to getting along with roommates is picking the right ones.
First, don’t bet that “opposites attract.” If you’re a neat freak, you’ll want to find roommates who feel the same way. And if you’re not, you don’t want to live with someone who will be offended that you dog-ear your textbooks.
Like any relationship, sharing a room requires consideration and compromise. Realize that you have to be aware of other peoples’ needs — and they should be aware of yours. Dividing up the chores; scheduling time in the kitchen, bathroom, etc.; and, most importantly, allowing an environment that’s conducive to study; are all essential to a successful living situation.
Obviously, there is more to learn—after all, you are a student. But consider these three essential skills as you acquire your education. There’s no course credit, but the rewards are quite real.