I was thinking the other day: what advice for millennials would I give that would be valuable for them to know? What would I tell myself when I was graduating high school knowing what I know now?

Let me start by saying I do not regret my past. I believe in learning from the experiences and mistakes you’ve made in the past to better yourself in the future. I also believe in reading and learning from other people’s experiences to help shape your future.

In my post today, I write about 10 things I would tell my 18-year-old-self.

10 things I would tell my 18-year-old self:

1) Ensure you understand the total cost of college.

I had no idea what $20k a year for tuition really meant. I knew that I needed to take out loans to pay for school – no big deal. It wasn’t until I had to start paying back my loans that I realized – crap! I wish I would have budgeted or saved more!!

2) Investigate the community college route.

Community college gives you the ability to try out what you are interested in, complete your generals, and then finish out your degree, if that is what you choose to do, at a four-year college. Please note this is NOT the route I took, but it is a route that I wish I knew more about.

There is a great deal to be said about the friendships and relationships you develop from living the “college life”. However, I’m sure that you also develop good relationships with people by going to a community college.

3) It is ok that you don’t know what you want to do for the rest of your life.

Take your time, try out a few different things that you think you might like before committing to four years of college and the money to go to college. Go job shadow jobs that interest you to see if you would really like them. You do not want to spend the next 20 or 30 years in a job that you will not like.

4) Trade schools are good options.

I know many highly successful electricians, plumbers, and general contractors. Many of these people started their own business, and they are reaping the benefits that running your own business provides.

5) Understand the power of compound interest.

Saving early matters, even if you only start saving a small amount. Check out my article on how maxing out your Roth IRA can net you $1 million in retirement. When you land your first job, try maxing out your 401(k) if you can! You will be happy later in life, AND you will likely be able to retire much earlier!!

6) Study more in college, but also take the time to make new friends.

Finding a good balance of studying and having fun is important. It took me a solid 2.5 years to really find and implement a good work/study/fun balance in college.

7) Look for internships

Spend time looking for internships. Or, if your college offers COOPs, where you work for a semester and get credit, take advantage! Internships or COOPs are a great way to get a foot in the door at the company you are at for when you graduate and want to land a full-time job.

8) Work while going to school to help pay for it.

Working while you go to school is a good idea for a few reasons. First, it looks good on your resume that you were able to balance a job and school. Second, you will gain experience that will help you in life. Three, you will network with more people and networking is always a good thing.

9) Stay active and keep your body healthy

When I first got into technicals sales I gained ALOT of weight. I was always uncomfortable because my clothes never fit right. I was pretty active, but I ate like crap and I drank too much beer. About four years ago, I finally took control of what I ate and drank and I slowly lost weight. Over the next few years, I lost about 35 pounds. I continue to be active and I try to eat healthy as often as possible (I still have room for improvement).

10) Enjoy life!

Study hard whichever route you go, have fun and meet new people, and take care of yourself and your family 🙂

What advice for millennials would you give?

I would like to hear any success stories for people that did NOT go to college?