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10 Things to Do After High School

Key Takeaways

  • Unlike Trigonometry, basic financial skills will always be useful.
  • As you enter into quasi-adulthood, make sure your online presence accurately reflects you.
  • Having the attitude of a lifelong learner is an invaluable asset.

And just like that, prom is a memory, yearbooks are full of signatures, and the rest of your life is waiting to happen. Different paths await everyone — full-time jobs, college, military service, or trade school is probably on the horizon. This summer will be full of things you’ll do for the first time, and in some cases — the last. Take this time to appreciate the moments that are happening in this transitional phase; and prepare to enter the fun-filled world of adulting.

In addition to the road-trips, beach days, and chill sessions in your near future, here are ten other things you should make time for, before entering the next stage of your life.

1. Learn to take care of your car

Maintaining a car is a big responsibility. Inspections, stickers, insurance — if your parents have always done it, this new responsibility is now all yours. Learning how to change a tire and use jumper cables are invaluable skills you won’t be sorry you learned. Even if you have AAA, basic car maintenance skills will always serve you well. If you’re preparing to leave home for an extended time, make sure you’ve changed your oil in the last 5,000 miles. Getting a tune-up may be a good idea as well, especially if you’re driving an older car. And if you’re moving to a new area, ask around for a good mechanic — you might not need one today, but you probably will eventually.

2. Keep a journal

This year has already proven to be eventful, and the adventures are sure to continue; therefore, you should have plenty to write about in a journal. Documenting your emotions is a good way to keep yourself mentally organized. We all know it’s easy to become overwhelmed with physical tasks, but you should also be mindful of mental exhaustion. Having an outlet like a journal is a safe way to learn more about yourself — and how you feel about life. A few years from now, you’ll look back and remember the 18-year-old version of yourself and admire the growth you have experienced.

3. Open a bank account

Unlike Trigonometry, basic financial skills will always be useful. If you haven’t done so already, opening your first bank account should be a priority. It’s a tool you will use for the rest of your life; and the better grasp you have on your finances now, the better off you’ll be once you’re a real adult. A student checking and a savings account is all you need to start. Student accounts normally don’t have a minimum balance requirement, and the fees should be minimal.

4. Get a planner

For the first time in your life, you are going to be in charge of your own schedule. If you can master the skill of organization now, you’ll be in great shape when things really get crazy. When getting organized, it’s important to find what works best for you. Some people need to keep it old school and write things down, while others are fine with an app. Remember to always play to your strengths in order to set yourself up for success.

5. Be prepared to live with someone else

Unless you’ve attended boarding school, living with someone, who isn’t a relative, is going to be a learning experience. Everyone is raised differently, so it’s important to understand and appreciate how other people do things. For example, is washing the dishes and putting them away the same thing? Do you leave a pot in the sink for a few days because it’s “soaking”? Do you mind someone else using your shampoo? Understand who you are first, and then communicate your needs and expectations to your new roommates.

6. Learn to cook a solid meal

Ramen noodles may seem like a great idea for a while, but your body will eventually need nutrients from all the basic food groups. Learning how to make a couple of meals before leaving the nest is a great idea. If you’re not big on cooking, start slow with a simple spaghetti recipe. Practice makes perfect, so use your family as guinea pigs while you still have a captive audience.

7. Clean up your social media accounts

As you enter into quasi-adulthood, make sure your online presence reflects positively on you. Check that the content you are posting does not send the wrong message to a potential employer or professor. Update your privacy settings, and delete anything unbecoming of a young adult who is serious about their future. If you don’t already have a Linkedin account, now is a good time to sign up. It’s never too early to start networking.

8. Apply for a credit card

Proceed with caution. If your parents have allowed you to “piggyback” off of their credit card, you will likely have access to a larger amount of credit than someone who has been on their own. Piggybacking is when an extremely trusting person allows you to become an authorized user on their credit card. This means you’ll have access to their credit card to help build your own credit. Either way, don’t treat your credit like cash. A good rule of thumb is to use a credit card for emergencies only. Learning good credit habits start now will benefit you throughout your life.

9. Make doctors’ appointments

If your healthcare has been managed by your parents, now is the perfect time to start learning how it works. If you’re moving away from home, make sure you’re up-to-date on your dental hygiene and any prescription medication you may need. Decide if you’re going to find a new doctor in your new area, and what your out-of-pocket costs will be per visit. Also make sure your health and dental insurance cards are in your wallet.

10. Be open to new things

Having the attitude of a lifelong learner is an invaluable asset. At this stage in your life, you have learned a lot and accomplished many things you should be proud of. It’s important to never stop learning, because we’re never truly done growing and discovering.

“Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow.”— Tommy Lee Jones, Men In Black.

Although you probably won’t be saving the world from aliens anytime soon, try to be open to new ideas, and don’t be afraid to question the things you “know.”

What to remember

Your individual success is not measured by what or how quickly your peers are accomplishing things. Don’t allow your newsfeed to make you feel like you’re lagging behind. Move at your own pace, and be proud of who you are and where you’re going.

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