If you’re heading into your final semesters of college, you might also be looking ahead to life afterwards. Although you may have enjoyed a great deal of independence as a college student, if you are like most students, you probably still had a fairly structured life and support from adults around you, from parents to professors to advisors and more. Planning for the next stage can be both exhilarating and scary. These tips can help you get in the right mindset and take the needed practical steps.

Don’t Overplan

It might seem like a contradiction to give this as the first piece of advice, but some people leaving college make the mistake of having a very rigid idea of how their life will go and struggle to adjust when it doesn’t meet that ideal. Flexibility will serve you well here. Maybe things will happen exactly to plan, but it’s just as possible that your first landlord or roommates will turn out to be terrible, the dream job you interviewed for in your final semester won’t be at all what you imagined or the only job offer you’ll get is back in your hometown instead of the big city you hoped to move to. As stressful as these types of things are in the moment, they don’t mean you won’t achieve your overall goals. Look on them as temporary setbacks, and be prepared to pivot as needed.

Know Your Student Loan Options

Be sure that you understand the terms of repayment for your student loans and what your options may be. Keep in mind that this could include refinancing student loans, which can save you money. In some cases, you may be able to refinance at a lower interest rate while in other cases, you might be offered lower monthly payments with a longer repayment term. As you progress in your career and make more money, you can increase the payments and still pay off the loans early.

Create a Budget

You won’t be able to finalize this until later, but a rough budget that estimates the cost of living in the places where you are applying for jobs can give you a sense of what type of salary you’ll need. Housing will probably be your biggest expense, so think about what you’ll prioritize. You might be tired of roommates and willing to pay more to live alone, or you might prioritize being in the center of all the action in your favorite city and happy to share a place with two or three other people to make it happen. Finally, be sure to include saving toward an emergency fund in your budget.

Spruce Up Your Social Media

Be sure any profiles you have on professional sites are up to date and that any other social media profiles connected to your real name don’t contain anything that a potential employer might view unfavorably. What this means will vary according to the industry you’re trying to enter, and it doesn’t mean you should try to be someone you aren’t. It’s fine to decide that you and certain employers are simply incompatible. However, you should ensure that the image you are projecting on social media is one you are comfortable presenting to the professional world.

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