5 Things They Won’t Teach You At University

We’ve all been there, lost in the clouds, assuming that when we graduate from college everything will be right in the world and we will be continuing on the road to success. But what about everything that college didn’t prepare us for? Like how to budget? Or how to deal with unemployment? Transitioning from the pandering college utopia to the monotonous and unpredictable working life can be a difficult process, but here are a few ways to make it seamless:

1. Saving Money

I recently rounded up the latest newspaper ads for three different grocery stores and went through each one to determine which prices were most affordable. To my surprise, there was a substantial difference between the stores; the most and least expensive produce often with a dollar per pound in difference. That might not seem like much, but when you are buying a few pounds of apples or cherries, it can add up quickly. Different stores may have better deals for various products. For example, Grocery Store A might have better deals on produce, but may be more expensive in the dairy or meat sections. So determine which stores have better deals on which products in order to get the best prices. Spending a little bit of time to figure this out will save you money down the road.

2. Budgeting and Meal Planning go Hand-in-hand

Budgeting can seem difficult, especially when you are transitioning from college life to working full-time, but when done correctly, you can save a lot of money. Make a decision (before you go shopping) on the amount of money you want to spend. I know someone who spends about $50 a week on groceries for her family of three so it can be done! Determine how many meals you are going to buy and plan them out for each day. If you are working full-time, it might be a good idea to invest in a crock-pot where meals are ready by the time you get home. Another good tip is to remember that the store brand is often less expensive and tastes just as good as the more recognizable packaged and more advertised brand you see on TV.

3. Learn to Plan Ahead

I remember waking up ten minutes before class and rushing off only to hear my stomach growling in the middle of the lecture. Good thing the class was only an hour long and I could come straight back to my dorm for breakfast. When working full-time, this luxury is no longer available. You have to plan to eat breakfast beforehand and take lunch with you. If you are good at planning, you are more likely to save money. I say this, because on occasion, I have previously ended up not making a lunch and eating out during my lunch hour, spending about $7 a meal. Had I packed a sandwich, wrap, or previous night’s leftovers, I would have ended up saving a lot of money. Ultimatum: Planning is Good.

4. Junior Year Prep

Leading up to graduation, most of us college students tend to believe that getting a job will be a breeze, now that we have a degree. Think again. While some people get job offers straight out of college, they have probably either been accepted into a professional program that leads to full-time employment, or have had experience at an internship that has decided to hire them. This is why it is crucial to think about your options before graduation, especially 6-12 months before you graduate. Junior year is an excellent time to be applying for internships that peak your interest and will no doubt help you gain experience and network with a company. Many times, these internships will lead to full-time jobs after graduation. My tip to you: Look for internships your junior year so you can gain valuable experience before you graduate.

5. Unemployment

Alas, you have worked and worked for four years, finally graduated, applied for numerous jobs, but haven’t heard back from anyone. What do you do? My suggestion is to look at companies that you are interested in working for and look at every job opening that they have listed. Although it may not be your dream position, this is the best way to get the inside scoop within the company. In fact, this is a great opportunity for you to prove yourself while learning more about the company. Best of all, you will be able to hear about any job opportunities first-hand and likely be able to apply before any external people. And if they like you, perhaps they will even offer you the better position when it opens up. Believe me; I’ve seen it happen!

Be sure to leave any other tips or insight in the comment section below! I would love to hear your suggestions!

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Kirsten A

Kirsten is a 23-year-old graduate from Macquarie University in Australia where she originally went on exchange and later transferred after falling in love with the country. After graduating she returned home to Colorado where she worked at Starbucks and Firstbank while saving money and applying for jobs. In April she landed a communications position at an Architecture firm in Sydney, Australia and has moved back to the "Land Down Under" where she enjoys picnicking with friends and going to the beach.

  • Annabelle Blanchet

    Perhaps, they want students to learn those things on their own. Or they just don’t care.

  • Kirsten Anderson

    I absolutely agree with you Annabelle as higher education is extremely expensive these days. Something that I hadn’t considered when I was in high school was going to a community college for two years and then transferring to a 4 year university to finish my last two, but in terms of finances, it would have saved a substantial amount of money while giving me the “same” degree. I also think (like yourself) that a lot of educational value has been lost, compared to when my parents went to college and worked two jobs to be able to go- they genuinely put in the effort and worked really hard whereas these days, I think that often times going to college tends to be “the norm” and what you do after high school. Thanks for your insight!