You Graduated College… Now What?: 8 Tips EVERY College Graduate Should Follow!

I recently spoke at Mercy College to students concerning student loan and credit card debt. During the events I asked students what their biggest fear was upon graduation. Most students seemed concerned with whether or not they would be able to find a job once they graduated, among a list of other concerns such as not being able to pay off loans, and other financial worries.

It’s almost time for a whole new class of College students to graduate, so thinking about this and with Mercy College student’s concerns in mind I was inspired to create and share a list of must do’s for new grads!

Tip #1: Create and maintain a budget!

– As a new graduate you will need to understand how much money you need to pay your bills and the only way to know that is to evaluate the bills you currently have and those due in the near future. Once you’re in the know on how much your bills are going to cost you each month, then you can create a budget for yourself. It is always in your best interest to consider reevaluating your budget every 3 to 6 months depending on your finances (or sooner should your monthly income or expenses change). With a very tough job market and limited options for repayment of student loans, a budget will offer you insight into your financial needs. A budget can also help you prepare to pay back these loans on a fixed income and maybe even give you an opportunity to save some money on the side. It may not be the most luxurious life to start off with, but these are good habits to learn for the future! For more tips on how to create a budget, visit the post “Do You Dislike the Word Budget?”

Tip #2: Understand your loan repayments!

This means understanding who the loan is with, not just the servicer of the loan but who actually owns the loan. Is it a private loan or one backed by the government? Additionally, it is equally important to understand the repayment terms, how long you have to pay back the loans, how much you owe, what portion of your payment will go to interest or principal. Consider repayment terms if you are going to go on to more schooling.

Tip #3: Build a better resume!

Remember, a good resume is about QUALITY not QUANTITY. Highlight your accomplishments and experiences but keep it short and sweet. Make sure if you include recommendations that they are recent and written by a professional. Do not include a letter from your 8th grade soccer coach, boss from your high school babysitting job, etc. Explain absences from the job market or highlight a great experience you had while working. Make it personal to the position you are applying for. No employer likes generic letters.

Tip #4: Invest in a professional wardrobe (or business fashion staple) that you can wear to any interview!

A plain black pantsuit is usually the way to go but a quality one can be a little pricey. To avoid killing your budget check out this article from to help you begin to create (or re-do) a business wardrobe without burning a hole in your wallet.

Tip # 5: Network, network, network!

Make connections with any (and every) business professional you can. Networking will expand your professional reach and help you find leads on job openings. Many people are happy to help others, through building professional connections you will know who to turn to when you need help refining your interview skills or building a resume. You might even get a job offer if you really grow and cultivate the relationship!

Tip #6: Don’t move out until you’re ready!

Of course it feels like you are going backwards when you are forced to move home to live with your parents after being independent for so long, but do not force yourself into debt by flying the coop too early! Wait until you are ready. It’s OK to get support from your family while you are getting on your feet! (There is nothing wrong with mooching off of your family while you still can!)

Tip #7: Save for retirement!

It might not be your biggest priority once you get your first job. Considering that your salary might be small to start off, you might not see the capability (or the need) to begin a retirement fund / 401k. Try to put in just a few percent of your salary when you start. You won’t even notice it’s gone! Then when you start making more money you can increase the percentage you are putting into the retirement fund.

Tip #8: Don’t stop learning just because you’re out of college!

Just because you just went through so many years of schooling doesn’t mean you’re done! You are NEVER done learning. Take webinars, seminars, research things you are interested in, enroll in adult education classes and participate in any learning opportunity you can! You will learn many more hands and practical skills in your new job but don’t wait until you get the job to learn these skills. Impress your interviewers by telling them all the extra effort you’ve been putting in to learn everything you possibly can about your field!

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation! Keep calm, follow my tips and you’ll do fine!

For more advice check out this article from featuring my expert advice! New College Grads: What to do with your Loans and Everything Else!

Leslie H. Tayne, Esq. founder of Tayne Law Group, P.C. (Formerly The Law Offices of Leslie H. Tayne, P.C.), assists consumers and individuals with the resolution of their unsecured debts. The firm’s flexible and well established policies and procedures have helped thousands of individuals lead a debt-free life. Law Offices of Leslie H. Tayne, P.C. has offices in Long Island, White Plains, Mount Kisco and New York City. For more information, call 1-631-470-8204 or visit
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