COLUMN: What to prioritize before partying


Dan Hahn

Dan Hahn is a graduate student studying English and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Dan Hahn, Columnist

When I was an undergraduate student two decades ago, I didn’t spend much time thinking about activities I could do outside of my studies that would be a positive benefit to my career or my long-term financial planning. 

In fact, I had no idea what I was going to do after I graduated. The idea of retirement seemed so far out of reach and I never considered it a possibility.

I consider myself lucky, and very few people have the good fortune to be in a career that provides retirement benefits without some kind of intentionality. 

While academic success should be of paramount concern to students, partying need not by default become the number two priority. 

In fact, learning to manage a career and your finances will ensure continued upward trajectory and advancement beyond the college years. In my mind, there are many skills outside a college major that a person needs to take initiative towards and cultivate on their own.

First off, personal finance is one area students need vastly more education on while in school. It’s my perception that students in their 20’s can’t imagine that retirement will one day be an actual prospect, but college is the best time to learn about personal finance.

It wasn’t until after I was already in a career before I learned about retirement investment accounts, compound interest, and how to make a budget so that saving money and paying bills is automatic. These are concepts I wish I learned about much sooner.

Two books that come to mind are “The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated” by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack and “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” by Ramit Sethi. Both are quick reads and have fundamental and modern financial concepts everyone should know about.

I also want to acknowledge that most students don’t have a lot of money to begin stashing away for retirement, but these are great resources to learn about retirement planning and making a budget, and you can get these books from the library. 

The second area outside of your studies that is a worthwhile time investment is professional development. A great resource for this is LinkedIn Learning, though I was disappointed to see that EIU no longer provides the LinkedIn Learning video library free for students. 

The powers that be at EIU should consider re-subscribing to LinkedIn Learning and advertising it so students can develop skills that will be useful for graduates entering the job market.

Even though EIU does not provide LinkedIn Learning as a free resource, your home public library may, and it’s worth looking into. There are other ways to develop technical proficiencies that are standard skills for most entry level jobs, and students are wise to read job ads in their feild to identify skill gaps, and then research available options to fill those gaps.

So, brushing up on personal finance and professional development should be emphasized over going to another party. Also keep in mind, while college is a great time for socializing, you can still develop proficiencies outside your studies and then go to socialize at the end of the day. 

You’ll just have more interesting things to talk about.

Dan Hahn is an English composition/rhetoric student. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.