11 things you need to know about life after college
life after college affects people in different ways. whether you are a traditional student who went to college right after high school or a non-traditional student who took some time off before completing college, there are certain common experiences many students have when they finally graduate. i know, i know... it can sometimes seem like college is simply a hindrance to what you really wanna accomplish in life. perhaps you view college as a political move that is necessary for your success in the real world. or maybe you see college as a stepping stone to furthering your education after undergrad. whatever the case, here are 11 things i've picked up on as common truths that are often swept under the rug while we are in college; these are things we typically aren't transparent about until we've graduated and are immersed into the real world where we have to learn these things as we go.
11). you may not have that "dream job" as soon as you'd like.
when i initially graduated from college, i actually did not know what my "dream job" was exactly. however, many college graduates already have that dream job in mind before they even cross the stage. perhaps they've done an internship at a company that they eventually fell in love with and in their mind, all roads must lead there. or, maybe they've always wanted to work at the same company because it's embedded in the fabric of their family's history. either way, it's important to understand that life's a marathon, not a sprint. just because the job of your dreams may not come as quickly as you'd like, doesn't mean it'll never come at all.
10). what you've done at school may be the only 'experience' you have when you graduate, make sure you're active on campus.
fortunately, i was fairly active on campus. however, that's not a reality for many college students. when you're looking for a job after college, it can be very disheartening. fact of the matter is, these jobs want you to have experience before they can consider you for a job. yet, without a job, it's difficult to acquire experience. if you are like most college graduates, you'll rely heavily on your internships and campus involvement to help you get your foot in the door. make sure you are making the most of your college experience while you still can.
9). who you know is just as important as what you know.
my unpopular opinion is that grade point averages are not everything. they shouldn't be something that students worry so much about that it consumes them. in my mind, a grade point average is simply another way of categorizing students and favoring one type of student over the other. don't be the student that was so worried about their grades that they forgot to have a life. companies aren't looking to hire robots; they're looking to hire people. make sure you take the time to go out and interact with people. it would be a shame for you to be qualified for a job and ultimately miss out because you lacked the social skills to hold a decent conversation regarding your expertise, ya know?
8). you may end up having to part ways with your college bestie --- and that's ok.
it's widely understood that college is a place for meeting lifelong friends. but, what many people don't talk about is the amount of friends you lose the further along you go in college. it seems like each year in college your circle may change..and rightfully so seeing as how everyone is changing and evolving with time. for those that make it with you to graduation, you may still need to go your separate ways, whether that be for personal or professional reasons. that's ok. if your friendship is built on a solid foundation, no amount of distance between coordinates on a map would be enough to break you guys' connection.. and if it dissolves, perhaps the friendship served it's season. becoming comfortable with necessary endings is probably one of the best things you can learn in life, especially after college.
7). having a college degree is not as exclusive as it once was.
there used to be a time when having a college degree really set you apart from other candidates. it positioned you as someone who was elite and somehow more capable of thriving in a position because of your well rounded education. however, nowadays so many people are getting degrees (which is great) that it's not as exclusive as it once was. so, if you're looking to add some edge to your resume or list of skills and such, you'll most likely need to further your education. but realize that lots of people are also going to further their education beyond undergrad. therefore, it's even more competitive in the job market. and with this in mind, you'll have to learn to make yourself stand out in more creative ways when actively seeking employment when you graduate.
6). people are going to ask about your job, frequently.
after you graduate, everyone is all of a sudden going to be obsessed with finding out what you're doing with your life, where you're working, who you're dating and all that good stuff. the sad part is that some of your "family" and "friends" may be asking about your current whereabouts only so they can use it against you later or throw shade when you aren't around. nevertheless, don't get an attitude with the general public only because their questions are a reminder to you that you have yet to acquire the job of your dreams. remain positive and respectful. you never know, someone asking you about your current job could be the conversation that gets you to your next job.
5). comparing your "life after" to that of your peers is counterproductive.
some of your friends are going to get engaged at graduation. some of them are going to get a high paying job and move out of town. don't get so consumed with what everyone else is doing that you began to get distracted from what you should be doing yourself. keeping your eye on the prize becomes difficult when you're keeping your eye on what everyone else is doing. make sure you remember to trust the timing of your own life. your success is closer than you may think, just remain confident in yourself.
4). there will be many disappointments in the job search process, but consistency is key.
finding a job may prove to be more difficult than you thought it would be. you may have given yourself certain mental deadlines to be at a certain place in your life by a specific time. but understand this; the process of looking for a job may very well jeopardize the plans you had already set for yourself. looking for a job can be so irritating. they don't always get back to you letting you know the status of your application, but you can't take that personal. if you're like me, you may have gone through second and third interviews only for them to hit you with something along the lines of, "we've decided to pursue another candidate." but for every company that says you aren't qualified enough--there's a company that truly appreciates all that you currently have to offer. don't be so quick to throw in the towel before an opportunity presents itself.
3). you may not realize that you should've changed your major until you actually graduate.
so you've finally graduated and are looking for jobs in your field and you realize that none of the jobs seem of interest to you. or maybe your passion changed midway through your matriculation and now you have no desire to study what you initially majored in. contrary to popular belief, this happens often among college students. what seemed like the best decision to make in college regarding your major may prove differently in the real world. you should not beat yourself up too bad if you are one of these people nor should you feel like you wasted your time. college for you was still nevertheless, an experience. not to mention, complaining about time that has passed won't refill the time-- so you might as well keep your mind in a positive space whenever you can.
2). sallie mae don't play.
when you're in college, financial aid is quick to tell you how much money you are approved for in student loans, it's the american way. they make it sound real nice by telling you that you don't have to pay it back until you graduate. however, what they seldom tell you about the repayment options and the fact that sallie mae......she does not play. mrs. mae will call you everyday and send you certified mail every week until you talk to her about your repayment plans. and if it's not her that's stalking you down, it'll be her new husband...mr. navient. trust me, it's better to accept it now that you will have to start making some sort of monthly payments. be honest with them and with yourself---ignoring their calls and throwing the mail away will not help your credit score, to be perfectly honest.
1). you may experience an early life crisis once you graduate, don't stay in that mental space too long.
things may not seem to be going as you planned when you graduate and because of that, you may began to experience feelings of doubt or uncertainty. it may seem like nothing is going right and that everyone is passing you up. but remember, not everyone is who they "post" to be on social media and everyone has secret battles they fight through from time to time. it's ok for you to release these feelings--that's a common natural reaction. however, the trick is not letting yourself stay in this negative mindset for a long time. pity parties are not conducive for growth. this is one of the many moments where a good circle of friends becomes essential. although it may difficult, amongst all the questions about your job and media posts about new jobs, weddings, and baby showers on your feed, stay encouraged and know that the timing of your life is just that...yours.