“Go to college, get your degree, and the rest of your life will fall into place.”
This is what our parents tell us. This is what our high school teachers tell us. And this phrase couldn’t be any less true. It’s a complete load of (pardon my French) b u l l s h i t.
Yet, when we graduate high school, we go onto college and we take out student loans and we work ourselves dead because we believe it.
The day that I walked across that stage and received my degree was one of the happiest days of my life. The hard part was finally over, and I was so ready to get out into the business world and take on the rest of my life. The weeks and months that followed, however, have proven to be some of the most stressful in my life.
So, I think that its time that we were real. Here are 9 things that no one tells you about life after college graduation.
1. Resumes are E V E R Y T H I N G
You will literally get nowhere in the business world without a fantastic resume. Resumes are so important, that I was required to take a class on improving mine in my last semester of college. Unlike when your parents were young adults, there is really no face-to-face interaction in the application process anymore. This means that if you are charming and professional in person, business really don’t give a rats ass unless you look good on the piece of paper that you submit through their automated system. In today’s world, you have to present yourself well on paper to even get to that face-to-face interaction, so make sure that your resume is solid.
Also, here are a few websites with tips for writing an effective resume. In addition to following these tips, make sure that the resume is organized and easy to read. A lot of times, there are templates available online through the magic of google.
2. The Bachelors degree is the new High School Diploma
This sounds so horrible, but it is so true. It seems like every job that I applied for post-college required a bachelors degree, but preferred a masters degree. It was so frustrating because I had just paid $50K+ for this piece of paper saying that I was qualified to have a job in the business world, and now all the jobs in the business world were telling me I was unqualified!
(If you are wondering if I have taken the initiative to go back to school to get my master’s degree, I have not…. yet. We will see what the future holds)
3. Your degree field does matter
It is a huge common misconception (that I fell for), that your degree field does not matter so long as you have a degree. I would talk about how much I hated my major, but did not want to start over, and people would respond with “just get the piece of paper. Just get the degree- all you need is a degree“. These people were wrong. The degree does matter! This goes hand in hand with needing an effective resume- everything is digital now. Whether or not you would like, say, marketing as a career and you have the skill sets for it (me), most companies will not even look at you if your resume says that you degree is in anything else (also me)! If I could do it all again, knowing what I know now, I would definitely take more time and consideration in choosing a major. Your major literally defines the kinds of jobs you will get right out of college, so it matters more than just about anything!
4. Your student loans WILL find you
One of the perks of my best friend being six years older than me, is that she warned me of the dangers of avoiding student loans. If you are thinking about ignoring your student loans and hoping that the problem goes away- don’t! Not only will they find you and send you letters, emails, phone calls, etc. THEY WILL LITERALLY TAKE YOUR MONEY WITHOUT PERMISSION! This is legal and is known as garnishing wages 🙂 ~it rocks~
So, my advice to you- that was actually advice that was given to me- is to call a debt counselor (I called in charge Debt Solutions) and get your loans consolidated. This means that all of the several different loans from different loan companies that you accepted without thought through your college years, will be combined into one big loan. When you consolidate them, talk to the debt counselor about an income based payment program. This will literally take several or $100+ payments a month from different loan companies and turn them into one payment based on your income. If you make a minuscule income (like me), your payments will likely be very low, so you can pay double to go toward the principal and the interest.
There’s my life advice lecture for today.
5. That “freshman 15” that you think you avoided suddenly becomes the “22 at 22”
If you’ve never heard of the “freshman 15”, its essentially the term for the 15+ pounds that people tend to gain in their freshman year of college. I was lucky enough to avoid the freshman 15, and my weight went up and down throughout college, but really never got out of hand. I thought that I was safe. I thought that I was lucky to have escaped the infamous young adult weight gain. I thought too soon. I guess I was just a late bloomer, because all the weight I avoided in college suddenly came hurling toward me like the blue shell on Mario Kart and hit me like a ton of bricks. Before I had even realized what was going on, my clothes didn’t fit any more, and it is proving to be A LOT harder to take care of now. So, stay healthy my friends. Weight gain doesn’t discriminate!
6. If you thought being a poor college student sucked, try being a poor adult
There is always an excuse to be a poor college student. People actually think its cute when college kids tell them that they are broke, like its some kind of initiation into adult life. When I was poor in college, it really sucked. I maxed out about every credit card I had trying to live and keep up with trends while maintaining a social life. At least everyone around me was doing it too, though.
Now, I am the youngest and lowest paid person in my office, and its no longer cute that I am poor. It really sucks when you tell your coworkers that your AC is out (In Florida), and they respond telling you to just get it fixed- its only $3-5K! In my head I would ponder what it must be like to just have a few thousand dollars at your disposal and that they had to be crazy if they think I had it. Out loud, I would respond “I need to figure out my finances” and kind of laugh it off. (Obviously they know I’m poor but I like to give the illusion that I am not that poor.)
The good news is that I hear that things get better as you get older. Fingers crossed.
7. Keep your student ID- places will still give you discounts.
In a world of negatives, we have found a positive! Keep your student ID, and ask just about every place you go if they give a student discount. I have never been anywhere that they scan or even look closely at the ID itself- just flash it for 10% off.
8. You will feel more lost than ever
I basically spent my college years thinking that I was really lost and unsure of who I was and what I wanted to be. Now that I have graduated, I realize that those feelings weren’t even a dent in what I feel now. I have the degree. I have the loans figured out. So, essentially, I should have the world at my feet. I should be able to be anything I want to be and do anything I want to do. This feeling can give you some crazy anxiety, and can make you feel lost.
But here is a message of hope…
9. You will also feel more free than ever
You can do anything you want to do. You can be anything that you want to be. You have a world of possibilities and now there is nothing holding you back. Instead of fearing it, try embracing it.
Now, to heed my own advice!
Until next time,