If you are a college student, I’m about to sound like an annoying, broken record and you’re probably going to want to leave this page, but just listen carefully: Enjoy these years. They are the best years of your life and you’ll never get them back.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard this I could probably pay off my student loans, but oh how true it is. I’m suffering from post-college depression, and I’m not even exaggerating a little bit. When college comes to a grinding halt, there are some things you should know…
You probably won’t find a job. This one can depend on your major or program, but generally speaking, it could be years before you even come close to the dream job. During college I completed three internships, an apprenticeship, a capstone and a practicum. Despite all of these attempts to gain enough experience to get hired, I have applied for approximately 150 positions to date (really, I’ve kept a list).
With that being said, forget about that “grace period” on your student loans. Most loaners give you six months before they start sending the bills. Good luck finding a job in this time period. I’ve actually considered going to grad school simply to put off paying my loans back.
Your grades actually matter. I always kept my grades up because I was on scholarship and needed to maintain a certain GPA… but I’ve heard it a thousand times, “It’s just a stupid history class, as long as I pass I don’t care.” And I’ll admit, once I hit my final semester and my scholarships weren’t in jeopardy I had the same attitude. Well guess what? The very first job I interviewed for they wanted to see a copy of my transcript.
Congratulations, you just earned yourself a $100,000 piece of paper. Now you just have to pay $150 to frame it. Apparently you are supposed to buy a frame for your degree that is adorned with your school’s official seal. Apparently it’ll cost you a pretty penny. Haven’t I spent enough?!
You will learn to choose the people you stay in touch with based on quality rather than quantity. I attended two different colleges and made dozens of friends. Now that I have graduated I realize that the majority of those people were just drinking buddies, only meant to spend a maximum of four years in my life. But there is a plus side to that… it makes it easy to see which ones matter. A select and special few of my college friends truly changed my life, and now I’d be lost without them.
Post-college depression is very real. And you’ll feel like you might never have fun again. I know that’s not true, I still have a few good years left in me, but college is all about letting loose and making questionable decisions… and that, my friends, really is over. It’s time to get your shit together.
Pack it on up, and move it on home. Unless you go straight on to grad school or move away for a job, there is a REALLY good chance you are going to end up moving back in with your parents, no matter how hard you try to avoid it… and if you have friends who are going to grad school or moving to new cities, this can be really sad and hard to accept, but it’s only temporary. And hey, who doesn’t love free rent and home-cooked meals?
Your shopping habits have to change. You spent the past few years searching for the perfect bandage dress or crop top, and when you’re strolling through the mall those items will still catch your eye, but you’re a working girl now. Cue the pant suits.
You start to realize that you did most of your learning outside of the classroom. I learned A LOT over the past four years, and not just from writing research papers and taking exams. I learned a lot about life. I’ve made some less-than-great decisions (hey, it’s college!) but each one of them taught me something. I’ve learned that “moving on” is harder than it seems, but I’m strong enough to handle it. I’ve learned that greasy food at 2 a.m. is always regrettable the next morning. Most importantly, I’ve learned that the only way to truly be successful is to surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you, and never let them go.