1. The dating pool.
The dating pool seems abysmal when you’re actually in college – everyone’s drunk, wearing sweat pants and has already dated three of your closest friends. But once you exit college, the entire game levels up. It’s not a Russian Roulette of which Tinder match is attractive and successful (Hint: None) and which is drunk, wearing sweat pants and has already dated three of your closest friends. At least in college you had the background dirt on everyone before you went out with them. In the real world, you have to learn everything the hard way.
2. Having a ridiculous amount of roommates.
At a certain point in college you start fantasizing about a place of your own. You’d have privacy! Quiet! Your own bathroom! It seems like the ultimate grown-up treat, until you actually get one and realize how much you miss your college roommates. Sure cramming six people into one house was a stretch but it sure did make rent cheap. Not to mention there was always someone around to vent to. And if the house was making weird sounds in the middle of the night? At least you were all going to probably die together. Now it’s just you and your bachelor pad against the world. And it’s scary out there.
3. Having a totally irregular schedule.
It used to seem so grown up to have a 9-5 job with weekends off. In college your class hours were all over the place and your work hours were even stranger. But in retrospect that wasn’t so bad. After all, you weren’t subject to the regular work hours so you could do things whenever you damn well pleased. Rush hour traffic? No thanks, you’ll just take the 11am class. Grocery store lines? Not when you go shopping at 2pm on a Tuesday. You somehow wasted so much less time on running errands during college for the sheer reason of you could do them whenever you pleased.
4. Having Professors and mentors to coach you.
Professors who had high expectations of you were a total pain in the ass… until you got into the real world and realized that nobody expects anything of you anymore. And that’s kind of scary. You quickly realize that as much as your mentor relationships stressed you out, they also inspired you to do your best work possible. And you kind of miss the external motivation. Having bosses who expect you to already know what you’re doing is a lot of pressure.
5. Being poor in a socially acceptable way.
In college, being poor meant you drank low quality beer and laughed with your roommates when the cable got shut off. In the real world being poor means you have to move back in with your parents and be embarrassed every time a not-poor friend asks you to catch up over drinks. Remember when we were all broke together and it was hilarious? … Guys?
6. Having intellectually stimulating conversations regularly.
Maybe it was the flow of drugs and booze, maybe it was the intense three-hour night lectures, but there were significantly fewer pleasantries between people in college. A normal conversation didn’t revolve around sports and the weather; it revolved around moral absolutism or the perils of global climate change (okay, so kind of the weather). You constantly had a new idea to ponder and you were never alone in entertaining it.
7. Experimentation being the norm.
Identities were being tried on like t-shirts in college and nobody blinked an eye at which one you were wearing that week. Want to dye your hair purple? Who didn’t? Feel like experimenting with your sexuality? Join the club! Planning to go Vegan for a month – just to see if you can do it? That’s cool. College was a time to try out every version of yourself and your rapidly changing identities were supported. Hell, they were even normal.
8. Meeting hoards of new people all the time.
In the real world you have to actively try to meet new people. In college you had to actively try not to. Each new semester brought on a slew of new classmates, colleagues and mentors. You were surrounded your own demographic and borderline overwhelmed by the amount of friends you accumulated. Where did they all go after college? Nobody knows. Somehow we all ended up the only twenty-something in the office. Life is strange that way.
9. Having SO MANY BREAKS.
Remember what life was like before you only got two weeks off/year? First there was winter break! Then reading week! Then four glorious, uninterrupted months of SUMMER. You could plan vacations! You could go see your family! Your year was a perfectly structured system that offered for time to actually go enjoy life. You even noticed the seasons changing.
10. Cashing in on student discounts.
Here’s a fun fact about the real world: On top of student loans and taxes you now also have to pay 10% extra for basically everything. No more poor-student lifestyle getting you a discount on the bus. Now you’re just a poor adult who nobody feels sorry for. Welcome to the real world?
11. Actually learning things.
In University we all dream of being out in the work force, using what we’ve spent so many years learning. In the real world, our brains start to ache after a year or two of pure application. Conferences suddenly seem exciting. Retraining sounds stimulating. Our brains become these needy little vessels that miss being constantly fed, even if they resented it at the time. We always want what we can’t have, right?