Life Skills College Doesn’t Teach You

When entering the real world after college, many recent graduates are unprepared for the real world and lack basic life skills and knowledge. This isn’t always the fault of the education system or a lack of effort. There are simply some things that we need to know that we are not taught in traditional education. Rather we must make an effort to learn these skills ourselves and must ready ourselves for the real world. Here are five important life skills all students should be taught before graduating college in order to be ready for the real world.

How to Prepare for An Interview

life skills - interview

One of the most important aspects of the real world is knowing how to prepare for a job interview. It is important to know how to dress oneself properly and appropriately and how to behave within an interview. Although past experience and knowledge are very important in getting a job, the interview itself is how employers decide whether or not you are suitable for the job.  Before going to an interview it is of vital importance to do proper research on the company, the position itself, and the culture of the position.

How to Do Your Own Taxes

life skills - taxes

Although many people rely on personal accountants to do their taxes for them, it is important to at least have a grasp on how to go about doing your own taxes. Everyone has to do them and by learning how to do them, you can save money by not hiring someone else to do something that you can do yourself. If you are employed and earning money you will have to file taxes. Understanding how taxes affect your income and whether or not you are being taxed too much or too little is quite important.

How to Cook Proper Meals

life skills - cooking

In college it is possible to skate by with only knowing a couple basic meals or by relying on meal plans or the traditional ramen noodle diet that college students seem to go with quite often.  Once in the real world it is necessary to not only know how to cook for yourself, but to know how to prepare healthy meals that get you all the nutrients and vitamins that you need. By learning how to cook proper meals you can not only keep yourself healthy, but can also save quite a bit of money by cutting down on how often you eat out.

How to Manage Money

life skills - money

Many college students have never had much financial freedom and have had their parents either handle their finances completely or control them for the most part. In the real world, it is necessary to keep track of what you are spending and earning in order to ensure that you have enough to make it through the month or to do the little things you want to do. Investing in a basic finance course or enlisting the help of a friend to teach you how to handle money is a great idea. It is also a smart idea to learn a little more about banking and to learn to budget expenses monthly and weekly.

How to Balance Social and Work Life

life skills - work life balance

One of the worst mistakes that recent graduates make is focusing too much on either the social or professional aspects of their lives.  Some focus wholeheartedly on work, putting all of their effort into furthering their career without leaving time for relationships and friends. On the other hand, many do not know how to focus on their work without cutting down on the social life that they enjoyed during college, and struggle to either find a job or keep up with their work life. Just because you have graduated doesn’t mean your social life needs to be over. However, it doesn’t mean that focusing on work isn’t important. It is imperative to find a healthy balance between the two.

Although it is important to enjoy college and the freedom that you enjoy, it is also necessary to learn a few life skills that are of the uttermost importance.  Doing so will help you find success upon graduating.

American Opportunity Tax Credit

Along with the harsh realities facing today’s college students, there is an opportunity. The American Opportunity Tax Credit was created to help us get through the most expensive part of our lives. President Obama proposed this Tax Credit, which was meant to take the place of the “Hope Credit.” The Hope Credit offered an $1,800 tax credit for each semester to college students living in homes with an annual income below $50,000 per year, or less than $100,000 for married families who file their taxes together. This credit was fairly limited, however, only being available to students in their first two years of undergraduate school, and only covering money spent on tuition and books required by the school. The Hope Credit did give hope to those it helped, but it just wasn’t enough for students facing huge student loan debts.

The American Opportunity Tax Credit was created as an extended version of the Hope credit, going quite a bit further to help struggling students. The American Opportunity Tax Credit raises the maximum credit available to $2,500, for four years of undergraduate school. It was intended to cover the years 2009-2010, which was extended to 2011-2012 with a possibility of an extension beyond 2012 if congress chooses.  It was also extended to cover course materials, like lab supplies and required software whereas the Hope credit only covered tuition and books. The American Opportunity Tax Credit goes even further than that, allowing students to receive the maximum tax credit of $2,500 if they live in a household with an income below $80,000, or married, jointly filed households bringing in $160,000 per year.

So the question is: How can I apply for it? You will need to fill out a 8863 form through the IRS website. Those who need additional instructions on filling out this paperwork can get that here. The 8863 form should be sent in along with your 1040 Tax return form. Remember, taxes are due on April 17, 2012. Make sure to have everything in by that date and you should be on your way to getting help with the costs of school.


For further information regarding the American Opportunity Tax Credit, check out President Barack Obama’s website, or the IRS website.