Life After Graduation
The weeks leading up to your graduation are no doubt filled with senior projects, final papers, exams, and possibly a thesis defense. Plus, you want to squeeze in as much time with your friends as possible. Senioritis may also be holding you in its grip. In short, you are probably feeling a lot of pressure. Inevitably, preparations for life after graduation are taking a backseat as you focus on everything mentioned above. However, in addition wrapping up projects and hanging out with your friends, you need to make time to plan for what comes next. You need to think about where you will live and how you will support yourself.
Planning for the future can be exciting, overwhelming, and frustrating. But at the very least you will give yourself some peace of mind if you think about what to expect and make some decisions. Being prepared for what happens after college will give you an advantage both in life and in work by giving you the tools you need in order to succeed.
Advice for Recent Graduates
As you prepare for graduation—and even right after graduation—everyone is going to have some kind of advice for you. Whether it is about what types of jobs you should apply for to where you should live and everything in between, almost everyone in your life is going to have suggestions for what you should do and how you should do it. Ultimately, though, you are the one that is closest to your situation, and your decisions will have to be based on what you feel is best for you and what you want to achieve. While all of the advice you will receive can grow annoying, do not discount all of it. Your friends and family are trying to be helpful, and some of their experience may be useful to you. And if you are unsure about the future, ask for help. Here is some advice that you should consider as you are preparing to graduate and as you are living after you graduate.
- Finding a Job: One of the most important steps you need to take after you graduate is to find a job. This is a difficult process, and you may be frustrated, especially given the current job market. However, you just have to remember that there are jobs out there and that you just need to keep looking. In the meantime, you may have to settle for a part-time job or a job that does not offer you the salary and benefits you really want. Remember, while you are working these types of jobs you can continue to look for a better job.
- Saving Money: As someone who has just graduated college, you most likely have a lot of student loan debt, and you will have other bills that you will need to pay. On top of student loan repayments, you have to pay rent and utilities, buy food, make car payments, make insurance payments, set a little aside in your savings account, etc. With all of these expenses, you are going to have to take responsibility and start budgeting your money. It may be difficult to do right away, but you will find a balance and also be able to save a little money each month in case of emergencies and for future expenses you might have.
- Finding a Place to Live: If you have lived in a dorm for the past four years, then the process of finding a place to live is completely new for you. If you are planning on renting an apartment, then you need to start looking before you graduate, and you need to find one about a month before you want to move in. By doing this, you will give the apartment complex time to fill out paperwork and get the apartment ready for you. However, you might also want to consider moving back home to live with your parents. If you do this, you are going to save a lot of money. And do not feel ashamed for moving back home; many recent graduates are doing it and it is a good way to regroup and plan for the future.
- Avoiding Debt: Your school loans have undoubtedly left you in debt, and after you graduate, you will have to begin paying off those loans. Do not add to your debt if you can help it. Avoid opening a credit card and stick to your budget. If an emergency arises or you know you will need to replace something expensive, apply for a credit card and then only use it for emergencies. Adding more debt to your current debt will not set you up for financial success. Likewise, you should avoid large expenses like purchasing a new car.
Finding a Balance in Life: One thing that you really need to do right after college is a find a balance to your life that works for you. In college, you might have pretended to spend a majority of your time studying or going to class, but the truth is you really were spending time with your friends, a lot. While this is a great thing to do in school, it will not work out well for you in real life. You are going to have to learn to balance your social, work, and personal lives so that they all get the right amount of attention.
What to Expect After Graduation
Life after college is going to be a lot different than what you have grown accustomed to while in college. A lot of the advice you are going to hear from friends and family will focus on what to expect from life after college. Listen to each piece of advice, and if it is useful to you, hold onto it; if not, let it go. Not everyone will be able to give you guidance, but some people may. Only you will ultimately know what will work best for you, and even if you make some mistakes along the way, do not worry. You can, however, know what some basic differences between college life and adult life are like. To help you prepare for life after gradation, here are some things to expect.
- Debt: As mentioned above, debt is a reality of life after college. The average student is going to graduate college with some sort of student loan debt. Expect this, and understand that that debt is going to influence your life. Because you have debt, you need to be conscious about the way you spend your money. You need to make a budget and stick to it.
- Growing Up: During every year of your life, you are going to learn new things and grow in some way. College was a great period for learning about yourself and for learning how to manage and balance your life. That growth and learning are going to continue as you transition into the real world, find a job, and move into a new place, either on your own or with roommates. You will continue to face challenges, and you will continue to learn.
- No Set Path: In college, you were given specific instructions and rewarded with extra credit and letter grades. Working in the real world is not quite the same. Your job will no doubt provide you with guidelines for specific tasks and projects, but you will not be evaluated for each item completed. Do not be discouraged if people do not shower praise on you, and do not expect your supervisor to be great with feedback. Maybe your workplace will be very vocal and supportive, but you cannot expect it. Do your work, and move on to the next task. If you have a goal in life or in your career, it is up to you to accomplish that goal. You may or may not find mentors along the way to guide you, but achieving your goals comes down to you. This may even mean finding a new job, taking on more responsibilities, and making difficult decisions.
- Keep on Moving: Life is sometimes a struggle. You most likely learned that in college at some point. However, you also probably had a professor or two, some friends, and your family to support you. After you graduate, you will still have a support network of some kind, and you will surely make new friends and acquaintances. While you will have to solve more problems on your own, remember that it is not a problem to call your parents or best friend for support or advice. However, take some time to think things through before calling; maybe you have the tools to solve something on your own!
- Coworkers: While you were in college, you had a choice, most of the time, when it came to living and hanging out with people. However, once you are in the working world, you may have to work with people that you dislike or do not connect with. While you will likely connect with a few coworkers, you should not expect to get along with all of them. Still, you need to be professional in the workplace, so remain tactful and cordial, especially in meetings and while working on projects.