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10 Things College Students Should Take Care of Now

Updated on October 12, 2017
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Nathan is pursuing a bachelor's degree in paralegal studies and, just like you, is paying off student loans.

10) Wisdom teeth

Most of us went through the awkward years of orthodontia--braces, tooth picks, retainers, etc. We came out of it with straight smiles and a lot fewer appointments. Then the dentist tells us we have wisdom teeth that need removed.

Basic upkeep means you can reach your brush to the wisdom tooth/teeth. Eruptions, abscesses and jaw functioning limits are all problems from not removing the offending teeth.

I had one wisdom tooth taken out. I knew I needed to start taking action when the left side of mouth and jaw began hurting when I ate. I spent roughly $100 for the consultation and paid $450 for removal (thanks to dental insurance reimbursement). Add pain medication and missing a few days from work (many offices don't perform surgeries on Fridays) when you're tallying up costs.

9) Renters Insurance

When we consider what we are looking at in our apartments--shelves full of canned tuna, Kraft mac and cheese, or Ramen noodles, the possibility of having anything worth stealing is probably laughable. How about what's worth protecting though? Furniture, electronics, guitars, and of course clothes are items we have and don't generally consider too taxing on the wallet.

We have gotten into this mindset too often though, meaning that nearly six out of 10 of us in our 20's have not put rent money towards renters insurance. Being a grown up means being aware that life throws curve balls, and Mother Nature and creeps are often the deliverymen of said curve balls. Fortunately the process of renters insurance isn't all that intimidating or expensive. An insurance plan that covers about $15000-20000 worth of property is generally enough for most of us and brings your yearly cost to 200-300 bucks.

Some quick tips:

  • Research what the deductible is
  • Does the coverage extend to actual-value price or replacement costs? (An older tablet or laptop won't get a lot of coverage if it's under the actual-value plan, since you will receive what it is worth today.)
  • There's generally a limit to how much coverage one can get on specific items and higher premiums are more likely

8) Pet's Shots

We know the basics of pet care, like making sure there's enough food and water, Spot's got a leash so he can run around outside, and that it wouldn't hurt if they went to the vet every now and then.

The vets have made it easier by breaking shots down into two groups--core and non-core shots. Core shots (and their boosters) are vital to all cats and include panleukopenia, feline herpes type 1, rabies and the feline calici virus. Others (non-core shots) are given depending on a cat's lifestyle and include Bordetella and the prevention of the feline leukemia virus. For dogs, each state has its own laws on the frequency of the rabies shot. It may be a yearly shot in some states and every three years elsewhere. Make sure you know the legislation in your area. As with cats, dogs should get core shots against parvovirus, distemper, and rabies.

Surprisngly those anti-vaxxers we encountered when measles had its comeback a la Valerie Cherish are probably the same group ardently opposing getting Spot vaccinated. We are all entitled to our opinion so in the link under this capsule the author has found it useful to not vaccinate her dogs.

7) Therapy

Not just for the Upper East Side New Yorker anymore, therapy doesn't carry the stigma it once did. The fast-paced environment we create isn't always conducive to self-reflection. How we feel about about particular events may not cross our minds until days later. And if there's a build-up of anger, frustration- negative emotions in general- it's probably gonna come out sooner or later. The numbers don't lie--one in five Americans suffer from mental health issues ( Primarily it's depression, but anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia are other illnesses affecting large numbers of people.

The dire stats aside, most clinical psychologists will say most people going in for therapy aren't on the verge of a nervous breakdown (<>). The things we wish to discuss run the gamut of humanity--relationship conflict, chronic work stressors, and being a better parent. The point is to get help if you need it and take time to investigate your feelings so you can be ahead of the challenges that come. It's also less expensive than the things we hide behind, like shopping, trips, and alcohol.

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6) Get a Passport

Americans get a bad rap for being egotistical and unaware of news beyond our backyards. That's a shame and while one person can't fix a stereotype, they can do their part in changing some attitudes. Getting passports give a type of freedom and adventure many Americans aren't fortunate enough to have. There are promising signs, with more college undergrads going overseas. Compared to our peers in Asia, Europe, and elsewhere though, the numbers are increasing at a slower pace. In fact just 10% of all US undergraduates will study abroad ( The rising costs of school must be part of the trend. Even if the best four years of your life (!) aren't spent learning Italian from a native while scraping into the last of the ramen supply, there's no reason you can't get out there after graduation. Scrimp, save, and show the undergrads they've got nothing on independent you.

5) Surviving in the woods

Say You're lost--without a map, phone, or even a compass. While you are more than welcome to put off getting lost, it may happen. What to do when lost in the woods? Did you know two common items can help a lost camper- a lighter and garbage bags! (

Without a lighter you don't have the fire for food, warmth, and sending an SOS message. Add plenty of green leaves for the white smoke it gives off- seasoned campers know what that means. A garbage bag at your disposal can go from a pancho to a tent when hung on a tree or anything with height to it. Let people know where you're going to be and bring these items with you.

4) Choosing Credit over Debit

Think back to when we were 18, in charge of our destinies by knowing exactly what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives (yeah right!). Financial institutions eager to get students to open credit cards are as common a sight on US campuses as cheap beer. Many have decided to just say No (<>), as a whopping 63% of millennials don't have a credit card. Some 18 to 29 year olds may know themselves (and their finances) well enough to not go down the credit road. Just 40% pay balances in full each month compared to 53% of their elders, so adding more interest and debts is a real fear for us.

However, the ability to pay it off each month and, more importantly, not having any major debts, is justification by many (<>) to opt for credit cards. A few reasons: credit cards offer more consumer protection than debit or cash; the rewards earned (cash back) from using a credit card on basics like groceries and utilities is money most people are happy to take; and finally, the truth is credit is king in making big kid moves. Potential employers are likely to do credit checks, along with car dealerships, etc. Obviously that could become a vicious cycle if you’re not in the game. Experts will agree on one thing—if debt problems exist, manage them before signing up for a credit card.

3) Know Your Status

We are fortunate enough in many regards to have high-quality medical care in the U.S. With the Affordable Care Act 15 million Americans are ensured than before it was put into practice. ( Some may see their 20’s as the last hurrah of one-night-stands, multiple partners, and a sense of freedom before settling down into monogamy. Certainly we have that prerogative but knowing status (STDs, HIV) is important. In U.S. emergency departments patients who test positive for HIV are already in the danger zone. According to one study from US News Health, ER visits that required HIV testing found among those who were positive, 23% were in the most infectious stage and 28% had AIDS. Making matters worse, more than ¾ of HIV-confirmed patients had no health insurance. The researchers concluded that getting the diagnosis, though painful, is the only sure way to intervention. While the ER is already overburdened and costly, most doctors measure the potential life-saving tests they can administer to outweigh the stark realities of upfront costs.

2) Register to Vote

Was the last time you exercised your right to vote on Monday night's "Dancing with the Stars?" If the answer is yes you should take the plunge and vote for more substantial issues. A few details on how voter registration works--
Your lifestyle, including purchases and how you spend your free time, can actually be used to track you down. So if you bought a Bible in the last year ( or volunteered at a LGBT rights rally there's someone deeply interested in helping you join the voting club. In this not very subtle comparison, the GOP would go after those in the former and Democrats look for the people in the latter.
Presidents don't drastically alter a person's life, so local campaigns are still the mode of impacting changes. The staffers know this, which is why you get more mail and even the door- to-door conversation. Whether it's for clerk of courts or a mayoral race (<>) the campaigns want to connect and get instant feedback. As ruthless as door-to-door people are, they don't have time to waste. By checking a voter's history, campaigns get the skinny on how often you vote, your association with a political party, and other details quickly. If you're not registered to vote, it's as good a time as any.
Be aware that if the staffer's eyes twinkle as they talk with you expect to be courted/stalked right up until game time. If you're a sure thing they want you to put out. And that's all there is to say with that metaphor.


1) Be Grateful

There's a lot of negative news out there. It portrays all millennials as self-entitled and without work ethic. Worse, it highlights that for some, the only way out of current conditions is to get involved in gangs, guns, and drugs. Neither of these are good, but then again they aren't the only options.

Being grateful requires very little work on your part. It means that no matter where you are, what you have, what your current feelings about your parents are, there's room for more. More kindness and love. Take a deep breath, get out in nature, and do the little things that nourish the spirit. You're not going to be broke forever. Believe it and make it happen for yourself.


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