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10 Things to Stop Doing After College: Break Your Bad Habits

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Climbing the ladder from high school to college can be quite the transition, especially if you move out of your parents’ house and live on your own. A lot of students fail to realize that earning a degree and getting that first “real” job after college will also be a big life change.

You might be so accustomed to one or more the behaviors listed below that you don’t even realize they’re bad habits, but it’s in your best interest to stop them as soon as possible if you want to succeed in workplace.

1. Dressing like a slob.

As kids we’re taught that the way we look on the outside isn’t as important as what’s on the inside. Forget what you were told, at least in this case. It may not be kind or fair, but when it comes to the work world, appearances matter. As USA Today puts it, “people are watching.” It will be tough for anyone to take you seriously if your idea of business casual is a tie-dye T-shirt and Birkenstocks. Yes, it’s a good idea to stand out from the crowd, but make sure you do it through hard work rather than bad clothes. That said, save your flip flops and sweatpants for the weekend and dress to impress.

2. Pulling all nighters.

A lot of people assume that the time-honored tradition of staying up all night to cram for exams—or wrap up that term paper that you knew about for the past four weeks yet waited until the night before to begin—will be a thing of the past after college graduation. For most people, it is, but you might catch yourself burning the midnight oil to meet an early morning work deadline or trying to go out with friends til the wee hours of the morning even though you have a 7 AM meeting. If at all possible, make sure you get your ZZZs each night. Not only will you perform poorly at work the next day, your health will wind up suffering. Business Insider points out that lack of sleep elevates stress levels, makes you hungry and can contribute to weight gain, hurts your memory and messes with your ability to concentrate. You can’t nap at your desk if you’d like to keep your job.

3. Drinking four (or more!) nights a week.

Happy Hour is a great way to network while getting a deal on drinks. It’s tempting to take advantage of those half-price cocktails every night of the week just because you can, but you’ll definitely put a dent in your bank account and cause your liver some added grief.

4. Ignoring due dates.

There’s a good chance you turned something in late at least once or twice during your college career. Even the strictest, harshest professors would usually accept things past their due date if you had a valid reason or concocted a reason in your head and lied so well it sounded pretty valid. Your grade might have been lowered a bit to make up for your tardiness, but a B or C was better than an F, right? Deadlines aren’t quite so lax in most workplaces, especially if other people are counting on you. If you want to meet your deadlines every time, consider following this advice from Inc.:

  • Start with specifics.
  • Negotiate.
  • Break the task into manageable segments.
  • Build in a buffer due date to have time for last minute changes.
  • Ask for help if you need it.
  • Don’t wait to get started!

5. Showing up late (if at all).

During college, you could sneak into the back of the classroom or skip class entirely if you didn’t feel like going. That’s not going to fly at work, where arriving on time is expected. The Houston Chronicle explains why punctuality is such a big deal—it shows your supervisor and colleagues that you’re responsible and dedicated to the job while allowing everything to run smoothly. If you’re late, a meeting that you’re supposed to attend might then start late, and the meeting after yours will start late too because the conference room isn’t empty yet. Make things easier on everyone and arrive on time.

6. Putting the “pro” in procrastination.

It’s all too easy to put things off until the last minute! There’s always something easier, more fun, or more important to do. If you catch yourself procrastinating at work, you will not only cause yourself unnecessary stress, you will most likely wind up doing subpar work. Yep, the same problem you had back in college when your professors commented that it didn’t seem like you had worked up to your full potential, except this time it could cost you your income.

7. Borrowing money like there’s no tomorrow.

Members of the class of 2013 graduated with an average of over $35,000 in student loans and other college related debt, reports CNN Money. Despite an increasing effort to help students understand just what they’re getting themselves into when they borrow more and more money for school, many who are fortunate enough to find jobs won’t even bring home enough after taxes to cover their student loan payments. Make a conscious effort to pay for things with cash rather than on credit. Borrowing more and more because you assume you’ll earn more money down the road is a plan that can easily backfire.

8. Winging it.

Some people are great when you put them on the spot. They can get up in front of a roomful of people and talk about a subject they know little about while making everyone else believe they’re a true expert on the topic. It might be a good talent to have, but make sure you do proper research before you attempt to make a presentation at work. The boss will want you to have facts and figures to back you up—even if you’re really good at winging it.

9. Cheating.

Even though no one likes to admit it, cheating happens in schools—even at the college level. The New York Times reports that the habit has gotten easier over the years and has become more tolerated. Even if you never got caught before, resist the urge to claim a coworker’s idea is your own. Give credit where credit is due.

10. Making unhealthy decisions.

College students are known for binge drinking and sleeping around, two seemingly innocent activities that can both be deadly. Take some time to examine your regular habits, even those that seem harmless enough like skipping breakfast or driving too fast. It might seem boring, but it’s important to pay more attention to your health as you get older. You won’t be college-aged forever!

Related Post:

12 Bad Habits to Break Before Starting College


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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