10 Things they should teach in college.

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Every year, millions of young people receive their degrees from over 4,500 colleges, universities, and graduate programs in the United States. They all have high hopes of entering the work force where they can get a good-paying job and the independence and freedom that comes with being a working adult. Unfortunately, many of them are still woefully unprepared for the challenges they’ll face in the real world, despite the piece of paper their degree is printed on and the sizable student loan bill many of them graduate with. They often need to re-learn a whole new skill set, not only on the job but as an autonomous adult who manages their own finances. So we wanted to offer 10 things they should teach in college that will help these millions of graduates survive and thrive.

1.     Networking.

“It’s not what you know, but who you know,” is a term you’ve probably heard again and again. And it’s true – networking is one of the most valuable skills and profitable uses of time you could imagine.  So they should really teach college students how to make professional connections, have working relationships, maintain friendships, and generally have a big circle of good people in your life who you engage regularly – and can help if you need anything.

2.     The power – and dangers – of social media.

If you’re over 30 years old, you’ve probably professed “Thank goodness they didn’t have social media when we were in college!” I know I have! But this is a different world these days, instantly connected by technology and social media. That can be an incredibly powerful tool, but also must be treated with caution and respect. They are starting to have college lectures on responsible and safe social media use and the message is always the same: be careful what you post and say, because once it’s on social media, it’s public record forever – and you can’t take it back!

3.     Building a resume.

Almost every professional job requires a resume, and yet our recent high school and college graduates are woefully unprepared to build one according to professional standards. It’s a trend that’s getting worse, according to HR managers and job placement experts, and a resume that’s not perfectly constructed usually ends up in “File 9” – industry speak for the trash.

4.     Applying for a job and interviewing skills.

Hand in hand with resume building, it’s important young people (and everyone these days!) knows how to go about searching for a job and interviewing effectively once they get the chance.

5.     Building a good credit score.

So much depends on keeping a good credit score – mortgage interest rates, credit card APR’s, access to small business loans, insurance rates, and even landing a job in the financial sector. Achieving a good credit score can literally save a consumer hundreds of thousands of dollars over their life, yet they don’t teach Credit Score 101 in the classroom!

6.     Managing debt.

Until recently, not only did they not teach students to avoid the pitfalls of credit cards and debt, they actively encouraged them to sign up for new credit cards right on campus – often for a free t-shirt! Thankfully those practices have been regulated, but the majority of graduates still start off with a significant amount of debt – including their student loans – with insufficient preparation.

7.     Savings first.

These days, many graduates (and everyone else!) are just trying to break even on a monthly basis, without the basic financial practice of building savings even on their radar. Yet more than ever, it’s important for people to put a portion of their paycheck in savings first, and amass 6 months of savings in case of emergency.

8.     The magic of compounding.

The principle of compounding in investments is one of the single most powerful tools for graduates, especially because time is on their side. Their investments will grow exponentially the earlier they start, but too many people begin putting money aside for investments in their 30’s, 40s or later, when it takes a lot more to achieve the same result.

9.     Home ownership compared to renting.

New reports now show that renting is actually twice as more expensive as home ownership in this country! Unless you’re planning to move back in with your parents (which they probably don’t want!) then you’re going to have pay a mortgage. The only decision you’ll make is whether to pay your own mortgage, or your landlord’s mortgage for them.

10. Time and stress management.

If it seems like there’s a lot of pressure and hard work to being an adult in the working world, that’s because there is! That’s why it’s also more important than ever to have balance and healthy practices in your life, including time and stress management. I strongly believe they should teach those skills in college, too!

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