Sure, classes are an important part of learning in college, but there are certain things reading a textbook or attending a lecture can’t teach you.
Manage your money
I like to think I’m pretty well aware of my personal financial situation: If I entered the real world today, I would barely be able to support myself for a month. Thankfully, my mom helps pay my tuition and rent. As for everything else, I spend money in college every day. It’s important to keep a close eye on your checking account in college because it will be quadruply important once you graduate. Making more money means spending more money, and you may have to start making sacrifices so you have enough dollars to go around. A few things you’ll need to pay for: loans, rent, utility bills, cable bills, phone bills, taxes and groceries.
If I’ve learned anything from my journalistic escapades over the last two years, annoying the hell out of people will eventually get you what you want. This is a lesson that should be followed by everyone. When someone says, “I’ll get back to you on that,” set a deadline for them in your head. If you don’t hear from them, make them hear from you. Repeat as many times as necessary. More often than not, people are just busy and they probably appreciate the reminders. I spent months pestering an editor for my internship this summer, and he said he liked my resolve. However, when people will try to duck you, find them. They can’t stop receiving emails, calls and visits from you.
Budget your time
It’s a task, sadly, I’ve come nowhere near mastering. While many deadlines are non-negotiable in college, I’ve proven otherwise before. But I’m paying to be at school, so they can’t oust me for occasional tardiness. If I begin to notoriously miss deadlines at a job, they can just fire me and replace me with someone more productive. Time management is a mental game as you battle your desires to procrastinate and do nothing — just for 10 minutes, you say. But we all know 10 minutes can become two hours in what feels like a split second.
Have a sense of direction
I pride myself on this quality. When I began driving, I needed a GPS to reach very routine locations. Now, I only use it to beat the arrival time it proposes. If you have a good spatial understanding of where you are, you can salvage time and get the most out of a city or town. If you’re traveling somewhere you’ve never been before, check out a map. Learn the street system and public transportation system so you know the most convenient way to travel. Do some research and see where the best restaurants or clubs are located if you want to go out. Breathe the locale, and don’t get lost.
Digest the news
No, not ESPN or E! News. Turn on CNN or go online and read. Get updates sent to your smartphone or follow prominent sources on Twitter. With today’s technology, news is easily accessible and released up to the second. But after checking the bare facts, take in some professional analysis and then analyze yourself. What does it mean for speech in Russia that three female members of a native punk band were sentenced to two years in jail for simply speaking out against Russian president Vladimir Putin? If someone was arrested for speaking out against Barack Obama, it would spark a domestic uproar over the validity of the First Amendment. What does The Dark Knight Rises movie theater massacre say about gun homicides in the United States? Twelve died that evening in Aurora, Colo. In 2008, only 11 people were killed by a gun in the entire nation of Japan. Whether the news directly affects you or not, it’s important to understand it.
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