Graduating from high school. Getting married. Buying your first home. Starting a family.
Transitions can be stressful as well as exciting. Even though some people try their hardest to resist change out of fear, in some cases its inevitable—staying in college forever just because youre a bit scared of whats to come isnt a realistic option!
Although its improving, the current job market is still less than ideal. Stories and reports about college graduates forced to become servers or bartenders due to a lack of jobs are plentiful, but in reality statistics have found that the unemployment rate among people with bachelors degrees is considerably lower than it is for high school graduates.
Whether or not you land your dream job shortly after earning your college degree, there are plenty of changes in store. Getting out of the crowded, smelly dorms and never needing to set foot inside a lecture hall again—for now, anyway—might seem like the best news youve heard all day, but its a good idea to realize that some of the adjustments youll have to make in the upcoming months might be tougher to deal with than others:
If youre able to get an apartment or rental home, congratulations! Moving out on your own can be exhilarating, even if your first place is cramped and crowded. Moving out can also put a serious dent in your savings account. You will most likely have to pay a security deposit along with your first months rent, and lease preparation fees are fairly common, too. Getting the water, electricity and gas turned on involves more than calling up the utility companies and asking nicely. You may be required to submit a deposit along with your request, which can be several hundred dollars—each.
If you decide to live with your parents after graduation—even temporarily—youll most likely save a considerable amount of money. You may also need to take your own ego down a peg or two, because eating Moms cooking and sleeping in your old bedroom every night might make you feel like a little kid. If you and your parents set some boundaries from the beginning, the experience might go a bit smoother.
Rent and utilities aside, life itself isnt cheap. Buying and maintaining a reliable automobile, paying for car insurance, filling the car with gas to get to and from work…the list goes on and on. Those campus shuttle busses might not seem so bad anymore!
After spending four or more years studying and preparing for your future career, you probably had a good idea of what the profession would be like—especially if you did an internship or two during college. The truth is, things may not be as rosy and you had hoped. Textbooks dont let you experience the wrath of an angry boss firsthand, nor do they compare to dealing with jealous or lazy colleagues.
Im too busy! is a common excuse among college students, but studies have found that most students dont do a lot of reading, writing and studying—at least not as much as theyd like you to believe. Once you secure full-time employment, youll be expected to work 40 or more hours per week, and it will be tough to unwind after work or on the weekends because youre still thinking about projects and assignments that youre working on in the office.
Its fairly easy to make friends during college. After all, campuses are full of young adults who share common goals and interests. When you get a job, youll be interacting with people of all ages. Going to lunch with co-workers in their forties or fifties might not sound like your idea of fun, but youll be able to learn from their experiences. A mentor is a valuable resource, whatever your profession.
The joke is that college students show up for class in their pajamas. While it may happen every now and then, most students dont dress up even when they do wear real clothes. Unless your new place of employment has a required uniform or an incredibly lax dress code, you will have to dress professionally. (And back to the real world being pricy—if you didnt already own a work-worthy wardrobe, youll have to spend a bit on clothes.
College nights and weekend parties were fun, but just imagine how much fun youll be able to have when you never have to study for tests or wake up for class right? Maybe if you werent so darned tired from working all week long.
When youre accustomed to spring break, summer vacation, Thanksgiving break and a month off a Christmastime a regular schedule will be a bit of a shocker. And if you feel like calling in sick on those days that you just dont feel like going, youll have to remind yourself that new hires often receive just one or two weeks of paid time off each year.
Even if yours werent the greatest or you didnt believe that they were a true indicator of your knowledge, you could always count on getting grades in school. Performance reviews do happen once in a while in most workplaces, but you will no longer receive a piece of paper every few weeks to let you know how youre doing.
Drinking so much that you forgot what you did that night, only to wind up tagged in your friends somewhat risque Facebook photos the next morning might have been embarrassing, but it could do a lot more harm now that youre a working professional. If you wind up becoming known as the one who always shows up late or the one who always kisses up to the boss or something even worse around the office, you might not be very popular with your coworkers.
During college, the light at the end of the tunnel was graduation—finally earning that degree and getting out of school! Your goals will undoubtedly change once youre finished with school, but its important to realize that the small ones are just as important as the big ones. Signing a big client or acing a company presentation can lead to bigger and better things like promotions and pay increases. Dont miss the forest for the trees.
Graduating from college can be nearly as nerve-wracking as it is exciting. Your mind may be swirling with dozens of questions. Where will you live? Where will you work? How will you afford everything that you need? If you realize now that there are plenty of changes in store and some are better than others, youre already a step ahead.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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