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10 Real Life Skills You Need Before You Graduate

Confused young woman graduating

Many great lessons are learned in college lecture halls all across the country. Unfortunately, college doesn't teach you how to change a flat tire or how to dig yourself out of your insurmountable student debt upon graduation. Sometimes, you need more than just a lecture hall with a professorial talking head.

Getting Ready to Enter the Real World

You're probably not going to use Avogadro's number in your normal, everyday life. You probably won't need to summarize the events of the Second Boer War over coffee with your new girlfriend. What you will need to survive--and thrive--are real, practical skills and knowledge.

How to Not Be Broke All the Time

Empty Pocket

It's a not-so-subtle irony that many young people graduate from college saddled with overwhelming levels of student debt, only to lack the know-how to manage their money effectively and pay down that debt in as timely a fashion as possible. Many new graduates don't know how to budget their money and end up digging themselves an even deeper hole with credit card debt.

Money may not buy happiness, but mounds of debt and poor money management can sure make it hard to be happy. Go around buying $7 lattes every day and suddenly you can't pay the utility bill to keep the lights on at the end of the month. Set a budget and stick to it.

How to Deal With Taxes

No matter what you choose to study in college, you'll need to get a job at some point. Even the art history major who is now serving up those $7 lattes needs to file an income tax return each year. Most people don't know the first thing about the remarkably complicated world of income tax, let alone how to estimate their tax refund without major assistance from an accountant.

Newsflash: before you go celebrating about that big refund you just got, realize all you did was overpay all year long and the government just swindled you for an interest-free loan. It's your money. You deserve to keep it.

How to Avoid Getting All Funked Up

Woman covering nose because the man stinks

This has nothing to do with getting down with your bad self as you flail your arms uncontrollably to some Bruno Mars track. This "Uptown Funk" has to do with your ability to handle yourself in the bathroom and not so much on the dance floor.

Personal hygiene, regardless of situation or circumstance, needs to take priority. Don't be the guy on the subway no one wants to sit next to. Don't blow your first date because you smell like something that fell out of a dumpster. Get funky while busting a move, but don't actually be funky while doing it.

How to Talk Like Grown-Ups Do

No, this isn't about tossing out pickup lines at the local dive bar after you've had three beers too many. Well, it could be about that, but it's so much more. After burying your face in textbooks for four years, you may have forgotten to be around other human beings.

Strong communication skills will serve you well, both personally and professionally. Can you be an effective communicator with not only your peers but also diverse people of different ages and backgrounds? Can you establish rapport with just about everyone?

Your future marriage could depend on it and you wouldn't want to upset your future wife who'll be quick to send you to sleep on your future couch after you put your future red sock in with the whites in the future laundry for your future 10th time.

How to Manage Stress

Continuing on the topic of dating and marriage, difficult relationships can be incredibly taxing and stressful. Struggling to ascend the corporate ladder can be stressful. Figuring out how to pay for rent when you've bought too many $7 lattes can be stressful. It's enough to make you flip your cup of noodles.

It's a good idea to learn how to deal effectively with stressful situations, otherwise, you'll go bald (from pulling your hair out), overweight (from stress eating on fast food) and broke (from mismanaging your credit card again) before you know it.

How to Change a Flat Tire

Changing a tire

Ah, the traditional post-graduation road trip. Or just another late night munchies run. Whatever the case, you've apparently run over a nail and you've got a flat. It happens to the best of people. You're in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night, and of course, it's pouring. To make matters even more unpleasant, you've got zero cell phone reception.

This is why you need to know how to change your own flat tire. Roadside assistance isn't always going to be available to save you. Flagging down other motorists is how you could end up on the morning news. This is a basic life skill anyone with a car needs to know. Of course, if you're the broke recent graduate with no job, no life and no means of managing stress, you might not have a car to drive anyhow.

How to Cook More Than Cup of Noodles

After sustaining yourself for four years exclusively on cup of noodles and almost-expired microwave dinners, it's about high time you learn how to cook something that isn't yet another box of plastic-tasting macaroni and neon orange cheese-like topping.

No one expects you to be the next Gordon Ramsay, but you should be able to whip together something reasonably nutritious and delicious on your own. It's what adults do. There are plenty of quick and easy recipes on the Internet.

Impress your future boyfriend or girlfriend with your culinary talent, even if you're just a one-trick pony to start. But don't cook pony. He or she might think that's too weird. Go with a casserole or something.

How to Settle for Mr. Good Enough

When you're young and naïve, the world is your oyster and it's filled with endless possibilities. You feel like the world owes you something special, so you hold on to that idealized image of what you deserve. Of course, it never materializes and you just get disappointed. Life sucks, right?

While it's admirable to have high standards, eventually you need to stop looking for Mr. Right and start looking for Mr. Right Now. Nothing and nobody will ever be completely perfect or wholly up to your glorious standards. This is true of life partners, just as much as it is true of career paths and home purchases.

How to Bargain for the Best Deal

Businesswomen shaking hands

Congratulations! You've got yourself a job and you've made it past probation. You may have even wowed your new boss with your initiative and can-do attitude. Now, it's time to negotiate a raise... except you don't know how. Go in too soft and you'll get less than you deserve. Go in too hard and you'll offend your new employer and risk your future prospects.

Negotiation skills prove invaluable in all areas of your post-college life too, whether that's negotiating the best mortgage on your first home, negotiating a better price on your first family minivan, or negotiating with your spouse for "permission" to catch the big game at a buddy's house.

How to Survive a Disaster

When an earthquake strikes, do you know what to do? If your town gets devastated by a hurricane, do you know how to produce safe drinking water? Or how to start a fire? How to splint a broken bone or how to open a can of pinto beans without a can opener?

Even without the horrific possibilities of the zombie apocalypse overtaking your town overnight, basic survival skills are an absolute must. You never know when you might find yourself in a situation where you simply cannot buy a $7 latte and a cup of noodles.

School Smarts Only Get You So Far

School can be cool, but it is also insufficient. It doesn't matter if you've aced every calculus exam thrown at you if you don't know how to talk to people, get out of debt, or change a flat tire on the side of the road. The game of life requires much more from you than a lucky roll of the dice. It needs another $7 latte.

10 Real Life Skills You Need Before You Graduate