College graduation is a joyous time of one’s life, as those sleepless nights are finally over. There will be no more days of surviving on nothing but instant noodles, and definitely no more lack of sleep due to prioritizing studying over rest. You feel like you’re on cloud nine, your diploma finally in your hands, and the world feels like it’s within your reach.
Life after college is a concept many deem as simple enough—graduate, check. Get a job, up next. Live your life, pending. But the truth is that there is so much about life after college that you don’t know about yet. College graduation is worth celebrating, yes, but nothing, not even your degree, can help you prepare for life after graduation. There’s no magic formula out there, but with years of experience up your sleeve, here’s a handy little guide to help you prepare on what’s actually waiting out there for you:
Lesson #1: You will be dealing with an obscene amount of paperwork.
There will be tons of it, and you need to be sharp and remain on top of it. There will be matters on healthcare, taxes, apartment leases and contracts, 401k enrollment, and so much more. Such forms will be endless, so much so that you’ll wish to be back on those days when your form worries merely manifested in “Terms of Agreement” you never read.
But never ignore paperwork, especially on taxes and healthcare. Without knowing proper costs and coverage, collection agencies might come knocking years later to collect the debt you’ve unknowingly amassed.
Lesson #2: You need to find a job.
Most graduates look for a job straight out of college, and chances are that this is the next step for you. Job hunting won’t be easy, especially since competition is now rampant. But there are ways you can get ahead, such as applying for university careers services.
It might be that your own college offers continued support after graduation. There are also countless job vacancies posted online, with thousands of websites dedicated to general labor staffing services. Some agencies even specialize in particular sectors. If large-scale companies don’t suit your taste, consider small- and medium-sized companies. They usually open doors for new graduates, and the best part? They offer training, development, and plenty of growth prospects.
Lesson #3: Your first job won’t be your last.
It’s completely fine to quit your first job. The first advice adults give us is this: find a job and settle for stability. It is the practical suit, of course, and it is incredibly tempting to follow. Who would ever want to turn down something safe and reliable, especially if it is hard to get? How could you let go of a job that pays you well?
But if you hate your current job, no matter how good it is, Hardford believes that you’ll only be wasting your life. You’ll essentially be developing skills you won’t use, building contacts you’ll never talk to, and painting a reputation you don’t even want. The verdict? Don’t be afraid to quit safety for something you’re passionate about.
Lesson #4: You need to prioritize paying off your debts.
The most important lesson you need to know is post-college money management. Your paycheck, unfortunately, will always be smaller than you think. Your expenses are always higher. The main culprit of such expenses will be bills and, of course, you student loans. In fact, statistics show that the average college graduate has a student loan of approximately $33,000. With such high numbers, supporting yourself and then paying back debts can feel impossible to achieve, especially with an entry-level salary.
Planning carefully is key. The first few years will definitely leave you living off paycheck to paycheck. But the sooner you prioritize paying your debts off, the sooner you’ll experience life.
Even though you’re now armed with these lessons, things will not always follow accordingly. Setbacks are part of life, and the distant dream of that life will remain distant. The changes can be ruthless, especially since there is so much you’re yet to discover. Difficult it may all seem, the joy of learning and discovering adult life will be memorable.