5 Things No One Tells You About Life After College
posted on April 25, 2016 | by Amanda Holstein
When we’re kids, we’re taught to think about each phase in life based on the different levels of schooling. There’s elementary school, then junior high, then high school, and finally there’s this elusive thing called college. But how often is life after college even mentioned, if not about getting married or having kids?
Personally, I found it jarring how emotionally unprepared I was for the “real world”. Even in college, all that was discussed about this next phase in life was getting a job and deciding where to live. Clearly, there is SO much more that we experience after graduation that I would have been so grateful to have learned about before that day came. Here are some of the most important things I’ve learned so far and wish someone had told me about life after college.
1. Making friends (& maintaining friendships) takes work.
In school, we’re used to being surrounded by people our age 24/7. In the real world, you need to put yourself in situations where there are people your age, with similar interests, and make an effort to build meaningful relationships with them.
2. Your first (and second, and third) job will not be your dream job.
If you think of the first step of life after college, it’s probably landing that first job. What no one tells you is that landing your first job is not like choosing where you’re going to college — you won’t research tons of options and pick the one that’s perfect for you for the next four years. Instead, you’ll try a job that interests you (and that has an opening), learn about that industry, make connections, and have a better understanding of what you want to do next.
3. You will have more than one career.
We’re brought up to think that after college, we choose what we want to be and that’s that. But it’s more complicated than that, and that’s a good thing! You don’t need to commit to one career like it’s the biggest decision of your life. You can have many jobs to figure out what your career goal is, then live out that career for 10 or 15 years, and see where it takes you. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll jump from being a teacher to owning your own bakery (although that’s totally possible!). But it can also mean you experience a more seamless path, like you’re a teacher for 5 years and then work for the government advocating education. You don’t need to have this plan all figured out — just start with what interests you now and see where it takes you.
4. No one cares where you went to college.
It’s true! Where you went to school doesn’t affect your life after college as much as you’d think. I rarely get asked where I went to school and when I do, it doesn’t have much impact on the conversation. It comes in handy when networking and finding connections through people you may know from college, but in terms of landing the right job, it’s not as important as you may think!
5. Life isn’t one long upward line — it’s a curvy line of ups and downs.
I used to look at life like a line chart, where the goal was to have an upward trajectory. I thought I was working towards one end goal, though I wasn’t even sure exactly what that goal was. This caused me to take setbacks very badly and to judge myself harshly during difficult times. Once I changed my perspective and realized life was more of curvy line, with ups, downs, and in-betweens — heading forward rather than in an upward trajectory — I wasn’t so stunned when difficult situations came my way. I could just accept it as part of life, knowing things would go back up sooner or later.
What have you learned since graduating from college?
Glad to see “advice from a 50-60 something” was learned. We may hear what others tell us but until we can integrate into our own experience it’s difficult to understand or truly know.
I could not agree with this list more! One of the hardest things for me was realizing how hard it is to make friends as an adult, especially in a new city. Also, I think the first year after college is always the hardest and second is a little bit easier! Great post, Amanda!
Riley Nowlan Says
Yes exactly! I was never told any of these things until after I graduated and it would have been way more helpful to have these things in mind as I worked my way through my degree!
Thanks for sharing!
Aïchatou Bella Says
Love, love, LOVE this post!
TYSM for sharing it at the right time.
So true! I especially agree with maintaining friendships. I’ve noticed that a lot of people spend loads of extra hours in the office, just because that’s where they can hang out with their friends (without the extra effort of making plans and going out)! It’s funny how the friendships of convenience drop off once you graduate, but the real ones stick around and make it work.
I can relate to your post so well! It’s been a year since I graduated from uni and “adult life” seems so chaotic. I would like to add that after graduation many people around you are suggesting and pushing you to do something, to settle down, to find that perfect job (without realization that you are on your way) and husdand :D This situation really drives me crazy. However life begins after university. You have more free time to do what you love without worrying that you should do your homerwork or prepare for classes :)
This is so helpful! Thank you. I’m about to graduating and it is definitely a really massive change.
Emily Woodard Says
I was shocked to realize these things after college. Transitioning from my undergrad career was difficult. I was so ready to be a teacher, but now that I am one, it’s not all I had hoped for. Granted, that has a lot to do with the specific program I work for. I can’t help but wonder about what other opportunities are out there and panic about whether or not I’m qualified.
What a wonderful post! As I am about to graduate college in the next coming month, moving to a new city and going to be starting my first full time job; all of this advice is just what I need to hear.
Thanks for sharing!
xo Nan // Simply Elegant Blog
You perfectly described what we all face when we get out of college! I was the same in thinking that life went into an upward trajectory because that is what your taught growing up. What is the step, was always something we were looking towards. And YES! YES! YES 1000x on the friends thing! Kids that are still in school don’t know how lucky they have it. All they have to do is walk up to somebody and say will you be my friend and that’s it. For us as adults it’s so much harder.
I couldn’t agree more! The year after college for me was one of the most difficult. No one tells you how tough the transition is into the real world!
Another thing to note is that you value your free time SO much more post-college. I hate sleeping in on the weekends because that is the only time I have to do what I want to do.
Christina | http://www.cuddlepill.com
Kenya Mangos Says
True. i learned it the hard way. searching for work especially what i had studied. i landed on a different job.
Katie McC | Katie's Kronicles Says
For real at everything above!!! I’ve been done with college for (4+ years, although no one believes that statement to be true) and I have worked two different jobs. The first one out of college was a retail job in a small store downtown. It paid terrible but it gave me experience. The second one I am still currently at but am looking for a change that pertains more to my love of fashion. I can say I have not “arrived” at my dream job yet. My blog would be more of my dream job but doesn’t exactly bright in the income quite yet. Thanks for sharing!
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