Three Action Thursday

A College Student’s Guide to Adulting…

[Admittedly this piece may not apply to you, but maybe you can forward it to someone to whom it does apply.]

Last week we covered things we should be doing on a regular basis as adults in a piece called You’re an Adult, Start Acting Like It. This week I thought we’d tackle things college students and soon-to-be graduates should be doing in preparation for joining the ranks of productive adulthood.

There has been a significant rise in real world “Adulting” classes. These classes are meant to teach young adults various skills they should have learned along the way but for some reason didn’t. I could get into my own personal beliefs on why that is, but that’s not what this piece is about. Instead, I want to focus on actions that college students could and should be taking RIGHT NOW to put themselves on a glide path to success as an adult.


Bottom line up front: Building relationships by intentionally sharing our hopes and dreams with others is of utmost importance.

Internships are great, and we should definitely try to acquire them, as they are fantastic resume- and experience-builders. We often think that is enough to get us our dream job out of college. More and more, people are discovering it is not or even worse yet they spend years at a feckless job unhappy.

Top things to avoid

  • Mindlessly going through a degree program only to discover we do not like the career path
  • Being complacent and staying within our comfort zone
  • Relying solely on internships

Top things to do

  • Talk to as many people as we can to insure we are happy with our major and future career options
  • Establish a personal rhythm of meeting with people both inside and tangential to our field to broaden our understanding while subsequently deepening relationships

Unpopular things to consider

  • We might have a romanticized view of what our career post-college might be like
  • Following our “passion” might not be the right answer
  • Work often means doing things we do not enjoy to some degree

Financial Intelligence

Bottom line up front: Upon graduation, continue to live like you are still in college.

“Lifestyle bloat” typically takes over after college: we land our first job, it is more money than we have seen previously and many people run straight to the car dealership or apartment leasing office (or even worse, a realtor to buy a house). After all, we deserve it after working all these years at school, right? WRONG! We need to live a life uncommon, and not let societal pressures dictate our financial future.

Top things to avoid

  • Taking on additional debt (consumer, car, mortgage)
  • Significantly increasing our monthly expenses

Top things to do

Unpopular things to consider

  • Pay your loans off before putting a single dollar into retirement
  • Consider getting a roommate or roommates to decrease monthly expenses
  • Drive a car that you own outright with no payments
  • Work harder and longer than anyone else at your place of employment, just for the experience

Personal Growth

Bottom line up front: We are NEVER done learning/growing.

“If we ain’t growing, then we are dying.” In this swiftly changing world, where it seems more and more like the machines are taking over, it is imperative that we focus on growing ourselves and that we do not become complacent. Our quality of life will increase significantly by creating a habit of self-improvement. The benefits are immense! Striving to live out one’s full potential can not only enrich our own lives, but by sharing it with others we are bringing additional value to others.

Top things to avoid

  • Binge-watching TV
  • Mindless social media scrolling
  • Hanging out with people who do not push us to be better versions of ourselves

Top things to do

  • Attend a minimum of one conference per year
  • Find a tribe of like-minded people who will push us
  • Read or listen to one to two books each month

Unpopular things to consider

  • Most of us are not even close to living up to our potential; we limit ourselves with our own views on our identity
  • We spend more time on worthless activities than we do planning our own future

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