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20 Things You Should Know How to Do Before You Graduate College

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Girls go to college to get more knowledge… but also just to grow up. Hopefully, you’ll learn just as many life lessons in your four years of college as you will facts from your textbooks. To guide you, Her Campus has a checklist of everything you should know how to do before graduation day.

1. Defend yourself. Take a self-defense class, invest in mace, and channel Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality (Sulley from Monsters, Inc. works, too). You never know when you’ll need to get yourself out of a tough situation. Check out Girls Fight Back, which provides information, encouragement, and an online directory for self-defense programs near you.

2. Iron your clothes. Wrinkles should be associated with wisdom and dried fruit, not your clothes. Sport them incorrectly and you’ll look like the sloppiest Jane in any professional setting.

3. Keep a clean online presence. The world has (reluctantly) forgiven you for your embarrassing, neon-flashing Xanga account from seventh grade, but you’re older and wiser now. Natalie Hage, a 2012 Ohio State graduate who is now a medical student at the University of Toledo, says being appropriate on the web is just as important for grad school admissions as it is for finding employment. As a start, Natalie suggests to “look at how strict others in the office or program keep their image clean for examples, and go from there.” At the very least, know how to manipulate your social media privacy settings and how to restrain yourself from littering your friends’ Facebook walls and Twitter feeds with poop jokes and comments like “teehee!”

4. Have company over. Sure, you were nice enough to let your friends crash at your place a few times in college. But if you’re doing any real party throwing or guest hosting, make sure to replace your Solo cups with nice glasses, your futon with a real bed, and that beer pong table with a more legitimate method of entertainment.

5. Make yourself a meal that doesn’t involve Ramen, fast food, or takeout. In college, we cut you some slack. Now that you’re a real adult, treat yourself to something that doesn’t come from a pizza box. Bon Appétit Magazine has some easy recipes to get you started.

6. Negotiate effectively with your parents. House rules may still apply when you’re at home, but your parents shouldn’t be ruling your life altogether. That said, you should be able to establish your independence from them in a polite way, i.e., “I appreciate your years-long insistence that beets are healthy and delicious, Mommy, but regarding the latter adjective, I respectfully disagree.”

7. Negotiate effectively with your employer. You should be able to discuss deadlines, hours, and salaries without crying, quitting, or throwing up a “talk to the hand.” That may have looked cool in 1999, but now you’d just get fired.

8. Write a (quality) thank you note. Even if you find etiquette silly and you enjoy petty means of rebelliousness, suck it up and learn to write an articulate, personalized thank you note. It’s simply a kind thing to do and it will reflect well on your own character, in both personal and professional situations.

doctor patient illness check up

9. Be honest with your doctor. As cute as it was when 15-year-old you acted utterly confused as to how you contracted mono, there’s no use in being bashful or deceptive when it comes to your health. Ask questions, voice concerns, and have trust and confidence in your doctor.

10. Introduce yourself professionally. Be prepared to do so via email, on the phone, or with a firm handshake, because a subtle nod and a “sup, brah” won’t work quite as well in the office as it did in your freshman dorm.

11. Prioritize. This can mean waiting 15 minutes to respond to a text from your boyfriend until after you’ve given an upset friend your undivided attention, choosing to chip away at your mountain of work instead of spending the night out, or finding a way to get a full night’s sleep [sleepyti.me].

12. Deliver a sincere apology. Puppy eyes + “I sowwy” = Fail. Averting your eyes + Hoping the problem will go away = Also fail. You’re bound to make a few mistakes over the next 80 years; apologizing for them appropriately will both help you bounce back and improve your personal relationships.

date boy girl couple relationship

13. Ask a guy out. If you never try, you’ll never know (Coldplay said that, so it must be true). Know how to go for it if you’re interested. Worst case scenario, it will still make for a good story.

14. Turn a guy down. You’ve come a long way since breaking up with your middle school boyfriend over AIM. Hopefully, another decade of experience has taught you how to turn him down the right way: clearly, kindly, and in person this time.

15. Manage your budget. Allowances and piggy banks are things of the past. It’s up to you to keep track of your expenditures and exercise self-control. “There’s nothing wrong with being broke, but you have to know when you can afford to go out,” says Lori Hage, a recent grad of the Ohio State University. So treat yourself once in a while, but keep your money in mind.

16. Fly solo. Even if your college wasn’t on the opposite coast and you never studied abroad in Ethiopia, chances are you’ll be making trips other than family vacations as an adult. Make sure you’re capable of travelling independently, packing lightly, and assuming responsibility for your own ticket, gate, and connection details.

17. Make a toast or an announcement. It turns out public speaking was not just a class high school administrators used to torture students. Learn to express yourself while staying calm, whether at a wedding or in the workplace.

we can do it poster female empowerment

18. Do the dirty work. If you’re living on your own, neither your dad nor the boys down the hall will be able to squash a bug, change your tires, or take out the trash for you. Hip-hop artist Webbie once posed the question: “Independent — do you know what that mean?” It means figuring out this kind of stuff by yourself.

19. Keep up with the news. Do yourself a favor and read a newspaper, or set your homepage to the website of a trustworthy news source, like CNN, ABC News, or the Wall Street Journal. Whether on a date or in an interview, you should be able to distinguish between Syria and Siri.

20. Know yourself. Take some time for introspection before you graduate, whether that means challenging your own beliefs and finding yourself spiritually or figuring out your true bust size. We’re not sure which is more difficult.


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