4 Things They Don’t Tell You In College

college graduates

Over the course of the four (OK five) years it took to graduate college, you learned a lot. You left with a major, maybe two, and probably a minor in some generic subject area that was supposed to serve you in your future career.  As it turns out, your professors left out a few pretty important things:

4. You know nothing about money management. Learn. Quickly.
woman shopping
Good money management is a skill you’re not going to learn in college.  For example, as it turns out, spring break trips to Cancun or new fall wardrobes each semester aren’t the best use of student loan money. Personally, I’d argue that they are, but let’s leave that to another column.

If you didn’t grow up with parents that instilled you with good money habits, don’t feel bad. You’re in good company with the rest of America.  Poor money management is paralyzing. But, with a little self-education and discipline, you can make small changes in your spending and saving habits that can profoundly impact your financial future. Gain an understanding of how to spend money, effectively save money and how to make money work for you.

3. More often than not, trust your gut.

Once in a while, you’ll come to a situation that gives you pause. You’ll feel something twist in your gut, a reaction that makes you just a little uncomfortable. But you’ll write it off because, after all, you know the right answer, the solution.  You learned about how to handle this in college! THIS EXACT THING.

But, you’re wrong!  Don’t write that feeling off, listen to it. That feeling is coming from somewhere that you can’t explain.  We’re not scientists, so don’t ask us to explain it, either.  But it’s a manifestation of your inner-most consciousness raising hell against your logical and reasoning brain. “Wait,” it screams, “this isn’t what you think it is.” It urges you to question your approach and proceed with caution.

2. You still have a lot to learn. Get used to it.
You won’t have a clue about what you’re doing when you start your first job.  Turns out, you still have a lot to learn after college, even grad school. Sure, you majored in this or have an advanced degree in that, but life and work don’t unfold like they do in a textbook. Perfect scenarios that resolve themselves with the application of your newfound skills just don’t exist in the real world.

Instead, college exposes you to the real world via a safe bubble and teaches you how to think and problem solve. You learn how to research and analyze what questions to ask, what to consider, what to ignore and how to apply your findings. The point? When you graduate, you’re able to take on just about any job because you’re able to learn and adapt. So don’t assume you know what you’re doing just because you’ve got a diploma. You still have a lot to learn.

1. Your grades don’t actually matter.
student studying
Good luck finding a professor that will admit this before you turn in that final exam but it’s (99.9 percent) true. I say 99.9 percent because in a few cases your class rank will matter (for graduate school or for that first job immediately after graduation). But for most of us, few employers are going to care that you were first or 50th or 500th in your class. They’ll want to know what you’re capable of and, as mentioned above, whether you can learn what it takes to get the job done.

Before you go skipping classes or dropping electives, it doesn’t mean that grades aren’t important. It just means that your grades won’t define you. What else are you doing in school? Are you the president of an organization?  Do you volunteer in the community? Do you have a job or internship? Are you playing sports? These activities are teaching you a helluva lot of skills more useful than your cum laude ranking.

You learn a lot between freshman and senior year, but it’s not all laid out for you in the curriculum.  Pay attention to what your professors are teaching you about life outside of college. You may just give yourself a competitive edge you didn’t know existed.