Ah, yes. “Adulting”. What a controversial term.
You’d never let a stranger hear you say it. But you love it.
College is the perfect time to put your adulting skills to the test. The funniest part is that there are actual adulting courses being taught now, so you can literally get tested on it.
Luckily for me, I’ve been an adult since I was 12. That’s when my mustache grew in – haven’t been ID’ed since, baby.
I know what you’re thinking.
“Will a mustache make me an adult? Do I want to be an adult?”
There are only so many jobs out there, and you’ll need a great first resume to land the job you want. Aside from that, employers like to hire people who are respectful, intelligent, mature, timely, clean, and self-aware.
These qualities help them make money through better customer engagement while reducing the chance you’ll be an utter failure.
I knew plenty of people in college who didn’t take anything seriously and couldn’t even spell routine. I’d venture a guess and say that their bad habits had a negative effect on their career trajectory. Call me crazy. Call me judgmental. I just call ‘em as I see ‘em.
I’ll bet you want a career with lots of commas in your bank account, so let me show you exactly how to recognize your own errors and begin adulting like a… well, an adult.
5 Ways to Adult in College
Stick to a Routine
You should still wake up at the same time every weekday before 11 AM.
During all of my years of college, I never got particularly lucky with having late classes in my schedule. As time progressed, I came to enjoy waking up early in the morning and having a productive day 5 days a week.
I treated myself to late classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays as a senior, because hey! I’m only human.
After you land your first job, you’ll probably spend some nights out drinking with coworkers and/or clients after work. Unfortunately for you, your boss won’t be pleased if you come in late because you had a monster hangover and woke up with taquitos on your chest.
Part of being a professional in the workforce is consistency: arrive ready to go each and every day and be on time.
This concept also applies to other parts of your schedule as well. For the most part, every week should look mostly the same. You should try to study at the same times, exercise at the same times, and eat at the same times each week. Your body will eventually adjust to the sleep schedule (no matter how early) and you’ll settle into a productive routine.
Did you think you’d just flip a switch once you graduated college?
Face Challenges Head-On
Young professionals get a bad rap these days. All anybody wants to say about this lovely group of people is that Millennials are entitled, selfish, and lazy.
You’re looking to exceed expectations anyway, so what more could you ask for?
Most of the time, people expect big problems to be dealt with by the superstars. They expect the CEO, their boss or their local congressman to step up to the challenge.
As a young man or woman in college, you have the perfect training ground for doing just that. Take on every challenge that comes your way.
Why, you ask? Let’s break it down:
Firstly, you get used to being out of your comfort zone. When this happens, you grow your skill set, perspective, organizational skills, and influence. If you’re comfortable all the time – how can you improve?
You also gain experience in leadership roles making critical decisions with incomplete information. Anybody can memorize a multiplication table if they stare at it long enough, but your real value comes from your ability to make decisions in a scenario with many (sometimes unknown) variables.
Third, you become accustomed to working under pressure. When you’re facing a tight deadline for a big project, will you make the client happy? Those are the moments that define your career, and being successful with this early on can put you on a different trajectory than your peers altogether.
Lastly, taking on challenges shows a great deal of initiative. By going out of your way to test yourself, you display courage, a willingness to learn, and a desire to improve. All of these things are the baseline for an ideal candidate in the business world, and there’s no better way to showcase these traits than through experience.
So, whether it’s leading a group project, running a student organization or taking a difficult course, seek opportunities that will give you the experience necessary to be a superstar from day one after graduation.
It’s a crucial four years in your development as you find yourself sandwiched between the days of summer breaks and working for 340 days a year until you reach retirement or financial independence (wink wink).
Aren’t you so glad you’re growing up!?
As you can imagine, the added responsibility creates situations that you didn’t face before. There is a 100% chance that you’ll make mistakes, but what matters is not which mistakes you make; what matters is how you handle the fallout of those mistakes.
After you reach the workforce or start your own business, your ability to do the following will serve you well:
- Apologizing for your mistakes
- Taking responsibility for your actions
- Not holding grudges
- Sacrificing your pride for the greater whole
I played basketball in high school (yeah, I’m an athlete) and didn’t get along with the coach. However, he didn’t accept personal excuses for team mistakes, no matter the situation. From this experience, I learned to always find solutions, not excuses.
These qualities will also propel you above your classmates in college, as your professors will notice and recruiters may pick up on it as well. Don’t pretend to be perfect. If you can exhibit a mature attitude, you represent a potential employee that will create less internal conflict and harbor positive external relationships. Cha-ching.
Develop Well-Rounded Viewpoints
We’ve all had arguments with people who don’t care about having a constructive discussion. You notice when you make valid points but it only adds to the disagreement. Don’t you hate that? If not, you’re the problem and you need this advice most.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of confirmation bias, seeking out information that reinforces your original beliefs. Unfortunately, as you probably know, this is pretty common in our society today.
Challenge yourself to be better than that. Be somebody that people can turn to when they need important things done correctly.
Business isn’t a simple game. You value will increase exponentially if you can understand all sides of an argument before making a decision. This is most easily accomplished by asking lots of questions and genuinely listening to what people have to say.
During your career, you’ll need to balance the needs of your customers, your company, and your business partners. Everyone has a different viewpoint and each one is valid.
The greatest leaders account for various perspectives to make the most well-informed decisions possible, so remember to listen more than you speak.
Take Time to Reflect
It’s amazing to see the change we all go through during the different stages of life. Looking back at each step provides meaning to me and helps explain where I am now and how I’ve gotten here.
You don’t need to reflect every day, but it’s important to take a step back every once in a while to think. By thinking about what has and hasn’t gone well, you can compare the results to your expectations and discover why things happened the way they did.
Reflection is your single greatest tool for self-improvement and it’ll also help you focus on your long-term goals. You can learn a great deal about yourself during this process, and the results get better the more you practice.
Adulting in its truest sense is approaching things with a level head while maintaining a high level of professionalism and grace. Companies pay adults the big bucks, not kids. By incorporating these five things into your life in college, you’re preparing yourself for a successful career in the field of your choosing.
It’s always good to be in the practice of winning habits, so why not start today?
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What’s your advice for how to adult in college? What things do you do to improve yourself every day? Share a comment below.
All opinions expressed on this blog are solely those of Home at 30 and are in no way affiliated with any other organization or institution. The purpose of this blog is to give general education and information about investing, wealth, careers, and college; It is not intended to be professional advice.
After earning an undergraduate degree in Economics and a Master of Arts in Management at Wake Forest University, Josh has paid off over $90k in student loan debt in 3.5 years. By founding Home at 30, Josh wants to help you make the most of college, build a successful career, and achieve financial independence.