As March comes to a close, college students are probably around half way through their Spring semester. For some, this is their last semester before graduation. That means job applications and interviews, and sleepless nights wondering what the heck they’re supposed to do after they get their degree. Life after graduation is scary and unexpected, I’m not going to lie. It’s filled with regrets and fear, but also a lot of pride and strength. I’m sure I’ll sound ancient by admitting this… but this year will be five years since my college graduation, and I still miss and think about it every day.
I think about how young I was, how scared for the future, how unsure and timid and self conscious. And I wish I could go back and tell myself that it’ll all be okay, and give myself advice. But, I can’t. So, I thought I’d share with the Class of 2021 instead.
It’s Okay to Change Your Mind.
When I was in college, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do as a career. I knew that I loved to write and that I was good at it, but I also knew that making a career out if it could be hard. So I decided to do the Disney College Program after I graduated and worked retail for a year. Now, I’m finally going after my writing dreams. It’s okay if you start down one path, before realizing what you really want from life.
Student Loans are Absolutely Terrifying, Oh my God.
I am so in debt because of my student loans, and I haven’t really started paying them yet, because I don’t make enough money. Just know that YIKES. Student Loans are terrifying and stressful.
You Might Regret Some of Your Choices. It Doesn’t Matter.
You might look back at some of the things you did in college or post-grad life with regret. You might even say you would go back and do differently. But the truth of the matter is you can’t. As Timon says in The Lion King, “Put your past behind you.” The only thing you have control over is what you do next.
Figuring Out Where to Live is Overwhelming.
I lived in a dorm for all 4 years of college, so moving into my first apartment and figuring out rent and going grocery shopping was a lot. That’s okay. It is a lot. Be patient with yourself, and know that the first time is the hardest. It gets so much easier after that.
You Aren’t Going to Stay in Contact With, or Friends With All of Your College Friends. And That’s Okay.
People Change. People Grow. People Move Away. You may lose contact with some of the people you considered your closest friends in college and though it’s sad, it’s a normal part of growing up.
Sometimes, It’s Okay to Think in the “Short Term”.
You don’t always have to think of decisions as being made for the rest of your life. Actually, you very rarely have to (unless you’re making a very big purchase or getting a tattoo or something). When you accept your first out of college job, it’s okay to only plan on staying there for a year, or only have a plan for a year. Taking it one step at a time is a great way of avoiding overwhelm.
You Might Feel Like The Unsuccessful One Among Your College Friends. You’re Not.
When I graduated, I did an internship at a theme park. Most of my friends began their careers, or started grad school. Many of my friends are married, and starting families. I am no where near that point in life. Success and happiness looks different for everyone.
You Might Miss Your Classes.
This was one of the biggest shocks to me after graduating: I missed going to class. I miss doing homework. I miss sitting in class with my classmates discussing books and analyzing what the author meant. Maybe it’s just me…
Making Friends After College is Hard.
As an awkward, anxious, introvert… I am terrible at making friends. But college made it easy. Living in a dorm and going to clubs that had to do with my interests definitely helped. I also went to a teeny tiny school that had a big family feel. After I graduated… I’ve met 99% of my friends through work… and okay maybe 100%. It is so hard to meet people after graduating, and the global pandemic definitely hasn’t helped.
There is Absolutely Nothing Like College Friends.
Sometimes, I can’t even believe that I used to be able to walk 4 doors down, or even across campus to see my closest friends. Now, my friends are scattered all over the country, but I’m so grateful for the four years we spent together. They were there the first time I accidentally got drunk, and made sure I got food in me. They were there when I wasn’t drinking because I was having a depressive episode, and made sure to check in on me and make sure I had something nonalcoholic to drink at parties. They were there to support me and sencourage me when I went on medical leave my senior year, and also at the end of every semester when I broke down during finals week.
Your College Degree is Both Priceless and Worthless.
Sometimes when I’m scrolling through Indeed, I’m taken by how many jobs require Bachelors Degrees, and how little they pay. Yes, you a Bachelors Degree for many basic careers nowaday, and it is not seen as an advantage anymore. In my experience, it’s been seen as the bare minimum.
It’s Okay to Feel Confused and Doubtful.
Adulthood is big and scary and overwhelming. It’s okay if you second guess yourself. More people are feeling the same way than you would think.
What You Choose to Do After Graduation Will Not Define The Rest of Your Life.
It is never too late to do something new.
If You Want to Go to Grad School, Do it as Soon as Possible.
One of my biggest regrets is not going to Grad School immediately after getting my Bachelors Degree. If I had the chance to go, I still would try to. But time moves faster than you expect and suddenly… you’ve been out of school for five years.
You’re Going to Be Okay.
Everything is going to work out the way that it’s supposed to in the end.