Karen Fratti
July 21, 2017 10:30 am

Everyone knows college is a magical time. You can finally make your own decisions about whether or not you want to make it to class, you meet some of the best friends you’ll ever have, and you learn to get creative with cheap food. It’s not a bad situation. But while you’re having fun (and learning!), there are some things you should do during college to make your life better after graduation.

Trust, you’ll thank us later.

It’s hard to think about life after graduation when you’re in the thick of midterms and Tinder dates, but you should. At least just a little bit.

Here are some of the things that should be at the top of your list so that you’re the most prepared you can be after graduation.

1Get your cash in order.

It might seem like you don’t have any, but you will one day. If you have loans, go to the financial aid office and sit down with one of the advisors there. Ask them to explain your loan to you and help you figure out what kind of repayment plan you should be on. If they offer other financial counseling, use it! Figure out your credit cards; start a savings account. Money problems compound later in life and having free financial counselors at your disposal (OK, your tuition pays for them, but still) is so sweet. Having a grasp of your money situation when you start your first job out of school really puts you ahead.

2Go to the doctor.

One day, everyone will health insurance. But that’s not happening anytime soon. This is so depressing, but go to the health clinic at your school! Stock up on birth control, get an IUD, see a therapist. Do all the health things here, so if you end up out in the world without health insurance, you’ll know that at least one time, you had a full checkup. Don’t be shy about becoming BFFs with the campus nurses.

3Actually, make nice with all the grownups.

If you have a professor you really loved, keep in touch with them. Your professors and advisors might be able to help you later, or at the very least, write you a reference letter for grad school or a job. If you don’t really have a faculty member that you got close to, don’t worry. Because eventually your college contacts, depending on your field, will become useless. But if you can fake it a little bit, they’re useful those first few years out while you try to figure out what you want to do with your life.

4Take advantage of the the career offices.

Like the financial aid office and the health clinic, those career offices actually work most times. Don’t feel like a loser making an appointment with a career advisor, because they just might be the way you get an internship. Attend networking events and job fairs, if only to get a feel for what kind of jobs you definitely don’t want. You don’t have to have a career path right out of college, but this is your chance to get some experience under your belt.

5Study abroad.

If you can figure out a way to afford it with your tuition and loans, take advantage of a study abroad program your school offers. It’s definitely a luxury, but you’ll never get such a structured-in-a-good-way chance to see the world after graduation. Everyone tends to say that studying abroad is the best thing ever and that it changes their life…and it’s usually true. Really. It’s worth trying to make it happen if you can swing it financially and with your academic plan.

Being in college is a great time, because you’re still sort of sheltered, even if it doesn’t feel that way. Don’t sleep on all the resources around you.

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