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Jul 28 2015
by Maryellen Stohlman-Vanderveen

Lessons for College You Learned from Your First Job

By Maryellen Stohlman-Vanderveen - Jul 28 2015

If you are a student who worked during high school, you’ve no doubt experienced the challenges that come along with balancing high school and extracurricular activities on top of part-time job and social life. No doubt you were looking forward to relaxing on your summer break as much as the rest of your class.

Just kidding, if you were a student who worked in high school you know summer is the time to pick up more hours. You are probably spending this summer saving up as much money as you can for books and back-to-school/dorm room shopping before you head off to college this fall.

Keep calm and do not stress over missing out while your friends hit the beach and you slave behind a grill or register (I know, the FOMO is real). When you arrive on campus, you are going to be extra prepared to handle college stress because you have already dealt with it all in high school. From crazy customers to late night study sessions, your first job has already taught you many of the lessons essential to college living.

Lesson One: How to deal with people

Whether it was the wild regular who always gave you trouble every time you waitressed or an out of control camper at the YMCA where you counseled, you’ve learned how to get what you need out of a conversation while solving problems and keeping the other person. This is a skill that is going to come in handy when you have to learn to live with a complete stranger as a roommate.

Undoubtedly, there will be some aspects of their personality that irritate you, but whether they play their music too loud or leave their shoes in the middle of the floor, you are not going to be one to nitpick because you’ve been putting up with customers’ and co-workers' annoying habits for years.

However, as someone who has worked, you’ve also learned to ask for what you need. Even if you just babysat while in high school, you’ve learned to negotiate with different people. This skill will come in handy when you do have to speak up and say something to your roommate or communicate with your professors.

(Not to mention that you will also have trouble kicking all your roommate’s friends out of your dorm room after they try to throw an open-door banger the night before exams because you have had tons of experience telling dissatisfied customers that the kitchen/store has closed and they need to leave.)

Lesson 2: How to budget

Having a job in high school probably made you more aware of money than most. Maybe you worked out of necessity or maybe you worked just to have extra spending money, but either way, you know more about finances and probably have more saved up than most of your peers.

You might even already know to do your own taxes.

Lesson 3: How to balance

No doubt you experienced some long days and even longer nights completing school work, going to work and attending sports practices on top of club meetings. No doubt you also attempted to maintain the active social life any teenager desires on top of all these other activities.

What this inevitably led to was a balancing act and while this summer may have been a nice break, the bad new is: college is going to be a giant balancing act too. Between classes, clubs and sports, a work study and a social life, you are about to be even busier in college.

The good news is though, all the time you put into balancing work, school and fun in high school is going to pay off big time. Not only are you already a master of multitasking (one of the most important skills in a college student’s repertoire), but you have handled enough scheduling conflicts to make you an excellent time manager and problem solver.

So while you work this summer, do not stress about college. The time you already put in has made you well prepared to handle whatever challenges college throws.

Feature Image Credit: Gratisography

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Maryellen Stohlman-Vanderveen - Smith College

Maryellen Stohlman-Vanderveen is a freshman at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She plans on pursuing journalism and has a passion for psychology and politics. Maryellen enjoys ice cream, long walks in the woods, and reading. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter @maryellenvdv.

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