Congratulations! You have obtained a certificate that has deemed you eligible for one undergraduate degree. Now go figure out your life! Good luck!
After many years of student debt, poor diet, and bad sleeping habits, you have finally reached what you would like to call “the end of the road.” You have officially graduated. You may ask, “Now what?”
Your mind begins to hammer in the message that you should get yourself together as soon as possible, and adulthood’s responsibilities. The presser of becoming what your parents wanted does exist, but this does not need to happen right after you walk across the stage; it can wait.
Sit back, take a deep breath, and listen as I walk you through some of the issues you will encounter immediately after your graduation day. Here is a guide of what to expect and what to do after college to keep your head above water. These truths will guide you as you scramble for pointers on how to be an adult.
Network and Socialize After You Graduate and Get Your Degree
Hanging out with friends will never be as easy as it was in college. That was the only time in your life where your exact age group was the majority in the demographic of your neighborhood. Now you are all spread out across the country, across the world.
There will no longer be a common area outside your campus housing where you can meet up with your peers. The library will not be open to you 24/7. The student union will not cater to your shenanigans anymore. You are no longer a student.
It’s a lot like after high school, but more serious this time. Grab hold onto the relationships that you truly value, and make a conscious effort to stay in touch with those people. You will be starting to identify the group of people that will become your life-long friends. Keep “accidentally” running into the girl or guy you are into if you think it is worth it.
All the while, keep pushing yourself to meet new people. New relationships will be a huge part of your success as you move forward into a foreign professional environment. You will need a friend or two to lean on from time to time, so do not be a stranger.
Look to meet people familiar with the area you will be living in. People know people who also know people. They could turn you on to potential employers and mentors if you are lost. Your new friends could become a part of your professional network. That is a plus.
Here are some quick tips on how to go about meeting new people if you are a little shaken up after graduation:
Get to Know your Acquaintances
It is more difficult to meet people you have never interacted with. Start slow, and get to know the people that surround you in day-to-day life. You already have some sort of in with them through work, school, the gym, hobbies, etc.
You are an adult now. If you feel a pressure to come off as someone you are not, you are going about this wrong. You are not going to hit it off with everyone as this process takes some trial and error. There is nothing wrong with being you. Do not let a couple of people get you down.
Meet for Coffee
This is the trendiest method to meet people. It is a perfect opportunity to sit down and get to know someone regardless of what you want the relationship to be. Making the offer to meet for coffee gives you the upper hand as you had the confidence to make it happen. “Getting coffee” does not even mean that you must get coffee. There are plenty of options at a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts if that is a concern.
Figure Out Your Living Arrangements After College
Here is the classic debate people face after college: Do you go live with Mom and Dad for a little bit or do you go wing it alone with a roommate or two?
Pros and Cons of Moving Back Home with Your Parents
Mom and Dad remind you value the small things. For little or no rent they will be more than happy to house you and support you as you piece together what you want to be post-college. Nothing beats nearly-free utilities, electricity, and home-cooked meals. You will probably will not even have to pay for your own toilet paper.
The luxury will fade away when you realize your social life is severely affected by this. No one likes the guy who wants to leave early to take care of something for your parents. Try bringing a love interest home for the night. Not a chance that will go over smoothly.
This is not a terrible option though if you can bare living with some social insecurity for a short while. You probably save a good chunk of money as long as you keep busy in your parent’s presence.
Benefits of Living on Your Own After Getting Your College Degree
Maybe you do not need to go home once last time before leaving the nest for good. Maybe you really are ready for this whole adult thing. Before taking on that burden, you should know some things first.
In this scenario, you will be responsible for bills on rent, utilities, and electricity. You will be working your butt off just to afford the humble abode so it will be more of a crash-pad than a living space. Cable TV and interior décor will be something that you will put off until you need to impress someone.
You will be giving up a lot to say you are doing great living on your own. Do not do this unless you have a couple of friends nearby. Things could get lonely in when you do catch a break from your work schedule.
Consider a Roommate
Two can be better than one. Another good move after college would rent a small place with a roommate or two. This could benefit you tremendously if you are starting fresh in an area you are not too familiar with. The financial burden would not be as much, work will dominate your schedules, and you will be in it together. Make sure to not do anything that would get you replaced.
Get a Job After Graduating From College
When do I start looking for work? Is it worth it to get paid a couple thousand more to be dissatisfied with your work at the end of the day? What and who are you saving up for? Will this job help you get to where you want to be down the road?
These are all questions you will ask yourself as you enter the workforce and get your first real job or two. Let’s weigh the options though. There is no “right way” to do this.
Students go to college to get a degree. They also go to gain experience in different fields that will confirm their professional destiny. By your graduation date, one would hope that you have had several jobs, including internship experience. If you performed well in those positions, you may have a professional network right under your nose in your college town.
Visit Your School’s Career Development Center
Today most campuses have career development centers and departments dedicated entirely to finding you a job. If you have not utilized those services by your senior year, now is the time to check that out before your student ID is invalid. Professionals in departments as such can go over your resume, refer you to career fairs, and notify you of employer meet-and-greets in your area. At the very least you can get on an email list. Ask your advisor if there have been any recent graduates in your field of study. Alumni networks can also be helpful in your job search.
Use Professional Social Media Platforms
If you are not the go-getter your degree says you are, there are easy ways to professionalize yourself online. Today many students are finding creative, efficient ways to present themselves on the internet to employers. Websites like LinkedIn and Weebly allow people to make unique working portfolios for free. Branding yourself, presenting your strengths, and highlighting your experiences in one website will make a solid impression on your employer.
Pursue Your Dreams and Stay Optimistic
If the world is not crashing down on you already, go apply for the dream job you’ve always wanted, go travel… go start a business! If you travel to a place you like, you could find short-term work there while you embrace a culture foreign to your own. Maybe you will land upon an opportunity that will change your life. Who knows, a gap year following your college years could sprout into a long-term tenure overseas. This is the time in your life to do those things!
If everything falls through, keep your head up. There is still hope. You are young, and you are lacking over half of the responsibilities that older people have. With that said, you are more capable of working longer hours in positions that are high-paying around the clock. Your time is not dependent of when you get out of class because there is no more class.
At the end of the day, you will make sure your student debt is taken care of. That is the whole reason you have been running around so frantically to find a job in the first place. Loans are typically financed to be paid off in full a couple of years after you graduate anyway.
If you are looking at going to graduate school, your debt is only going to get worse, so I’d suggest applying for jobs that will help cover the cost of the additional schooling, given your existing qualifications.
If I did not make any sense there, maybe this guy will.
Keep Learning Even After You Finish School
I just wrapped up discussing how you are done with college again. I want to emphasize that one more time because college does not mean that you are done with learning.
Right after college is where you will learn some of your biggest life lessons, and go through your most difficult times as a young adult. There is plenty to take away from these future trials.
All learning does not have to be done the hard way, through failure and retrospection. Why not add another skill to your existing tool belt while you have the time?
Look into the things that interest you. There are plenty of resources available online and in your area that will help you broaden your horizons if you are looking to do so. Sites like Rosetta Stone and Code Academy are perfect places to visit online. If your current work is not stimulating, this could be something to keep you busy, to keep you curious. Do not graduate from curiosity; that’s how you become boring.
Final Thoughts on What You Should Do After You Graduate From College
It is a blessing and a curse. You have moved past all the structure in your life, and your worth is no longer measured by a cumulative score on a transcript. At the same time, nothing is spelled out for you anymore. This can be terrifying time, but who is to say you cannot make it fun.
Take note of what was covered in the topics above, self-assess, and determine what life choices are best for you. No one person is the same. We each have different loans, responsibilities, and personal commitments to consider when deciding what moves are beneficial.
If you have not gotten the theme yet, life is a tricky thing to figure out. Hopefully, school delivered on the intangibles that people obsess over in the value of a college degree. You are going to need them as you figure out what to do after college.
Best of luck out there!