The Truth about Life after Graduation

Most of us have high expectations for life after college – and that’s a good thing. A great thing, even. We picture ourselves landing an amazing job, making good money, buying our first home, and even marrying our college sweetheart. We’ll finally have time for traveling, attending festivals, and hitting up the gym. The life we always dreamed of is right around the bend…

But the truth is, while many college graduates do create this happy ending for themselves, few achieve this right after graduating. The lost obligations of school should free up your schedule for focusing on the things you want to do, but often work and family obligations move in to replace them.

While we’re happy you made it this far and can’t wait to share in all your journeys, we also want to prepare you for the real  world. That being said, here are five possible situations you might find yourself in after graduation – and what you can do about it.

Going Back to School

A bachelor’s or even an associate’s degree is usually enough to give college grads a competitive edge over other job candidates. However, the longer you work in a field, and the further up the ranks you expect to climb, the more you might see the need for higher levels of education. As a result, many people return to complete master’s and doctorate level programs.

In addition to this, few of us really know what we want to do with the rest of our lives career-wise, until we actually start working. As a result, many people return to school to attain degrees or professional certifications in different areas, or to specialize in an area. In fact, most certifications require some level of job experience before you qualify to take the classes and sit the exam.

Be open to this opportunity. Don’t assume school is done forever once you get that degree in your hand.

Moving in with Mom

After living on your own for four years or so, moving back in with the parents can seem like a blow to your independence. However, until you find a job, this is the best financial decision you can make for yourself. It gives you the opportunity to save a few bucks, and to spend some time with your family before you go off to start your new life on your own.

Moving back home may feel like an admission of failure to some graduates, but it’s just a transitional period, and you should treat it as such. Many people get comfy once they move back home and start saving money they used to blow on rent. Save what you can, pay off your student loans, search for better opportunities, and then get out to make something of yourself, for yourself.

Searching for a Job… for A WHILE

Finding a job after college can be a difficult task and a lengthy process. It usually takes college graduates anywhere from 3 to 9 months to find a job. If you’ve been doing internships, volunteering, networking, and building up your resume in other ways, this significantly shortens the amount of time you’ll have to spend looking.

However, even the most promising opportunities and potential offers can disappear once you’ve graduated. Keep in mind also that you’re graduating with thousands of other students in your area. So if you haven’t distinguished yourself with any awards, work experience, or great connections… you’re not putting yourself in the best position to be picked.

However, not finding a job initially doesn’t need to be a bad thing. While you keep up an active search, take the time to work on things you would otherwise not have time for.

It took me 9 months to land my first corporate job after college, and I spent that time writing and editing four novels. Once I started working, my progress with my fiction-writing hit a snail’s pace and has yet to recover. So use this opportunity wisely.

Getting into Boring Routines

When you land that job, it’s easy to think your life has finally begun – and in a way it has. You can move out of mom’s basement, upgrade from a bicycle, and start saving towards bigger goals. No more budgeting your coffee expense, or being too broke to travel. However, there is one thing that happens once you find a job: your life becomes terribly routine.

In college, you likely had different days off every semester. You also probably had classes at 9AM some days, and as late as 6PM on others. No two days were alike, and every day you learned and worked on something new. In comparison, work life can be incredibly boring. You will likely have the same 9-to-5 schedule for five days a week, and before long will settle into a boring routine.

Be aware of this and schedule time for other things in life that allow you to have fun. Make time to date, to hang out with friends, to go hiking, to hit the gym, and to travel.

Because the funny thing about getting sucked into a boring routine is that you suddenly won’t want to make time for anything else, but work and sleep. And if you think the freshman fifteen were bad, wait ’til you pack on the working 30.

Starting a Family

For many college graduates, the long-term goal is to find a partner and settle down. Some lucky few already found their partners in college, and are likely already shopping for a ring, or an apartment together. While this is a rewarding part of our lives, starting a family together can take a toll on you, your career, and your personal life.

While there is no need to delay dating or looking for the one, it’s definitely a good idea to delay starting a family for as long as possible – if you haven’t already. Go ahead and move in together. Get married. Get that cute puppy in the store. But hang on to your birth control, and hold off on the kids for a while.

Studies show that women who wait until later on to have kids earn significantly more money than women of the same age and with the same level of education, but who had a child (or children) earlier in life.

Older parents usually also have more clout at work, which allows them to make use of more vacation time, and to schedule time off without it impacting their career. Greater financial stability at this time of your life is also a great reason to wait, if you can.

Obtaining tertiary-level education is a great achievement and one every adult should work towards – whether it’s earning a certification in a specialized area or getting a college degree. However, the false assumption that life magically gets better once you do, often sets a lot of adults up for disappointment, confusion, and a sense of failure. 

Hopefully this article shows you that though life does get a whole lot better after college, there are still concerns to keep in mind, and that you should prepare for. It’s not the end of the world – just a bump along your path to success.

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About the Author

Alexis Chateau is the Founder of College Mage and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.

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31 Comments Add yours

  1. Alex says:

    Reblogged this on Godigio and commented:

    College is filled with great experiences that prepare us for the real world of work. However, few colleges prepare you for the time which follows graduation, but comes before the great job and string of successes.

    Here is the truth about life after graduation, and what you can do to make the absolute best of it.

    Like

  2. Love this article! Very accurate and I am dealing with each of these things at the moment as well!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! I hope it gets better soon. Life right after graduation was some of my toughest and lowest months but that doesn’t last forever!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. simonjkyte says:

    nobody has any money in the UK

    Like

    1. Have you ever been to the Third World? Take a trip. It will give you some well-needed perspective. 😅😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. simonjkyte says:

        My point being that people graduate, can’t afford to rent anywhere, have 40k of debt etc

        Like

      2. Indeed! – and in the Third World people can graduate and still suffer worse things like poverty. College gives graduates some bargaining power, but it’s not the be-all-end-all of their “adulting” journey.

        Like

      3. simonjkyte says:

        It gave graduates some bargaining power when there was a limited supply. But now that is the norm the bargaining power has evaporated, frankly alongside wage premia differentials. And it gets worse too after 45 because you start getting undercut.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Well I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s the norm. Where I’m from, only 1 to 3% of us have a college degree. In America it’s 20 something % of men and 30 something % of women. We’re still in the minority.

        However, relative to the number of corporate jobs available that these degrees would qualify us for, yes, there is some saturation.

        Thankfully, at my university they taught us, “We’re not educating you to find a job. We’re educating you to CREATE them.” I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I’ve kept that dear to me. That’s really the only way to benefit from a degree without relying too much on corporate, regardless of age.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. simonjkyte says:

        In the early 2000s the govt randomly decided it would be a good idea if 50% of all young people had a degree from now on….

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I think that’s a great idea. An educated population is always best. But in that instance, education had better be inexpensive or free.

        Like

      7. simonjkyte says:

        hmmmm at the same time it introduced tuition fees. a lot of recent graduates are working in fast food, hospitality, catering

        Like

      8. That’s true everywhere. But I still say better an educated population than an uneducated one. I didn’t go to college just to get a job. I went to learn. College doesn’t employ us. We have to make our own way when we leave. If we’re not prepared to consider that reality than we shouldn’t go at all, considering what the president reality is. It sucks, but that’s life. We can’t plan for the ideal. We have to plan for the reality.

        Like

      9. simonjkyte says:

        The future is probably AI – will hit professions very badly. they just don’t know it yet

        Liked by 1 person

      10. simonjkyte says:

        do you know Suskind & Suskind?

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Never heard of them, why?

        Like

  4. sharonamondi says:

    You make it so real in this article and its the plain truth. I have been living at home my whole 3years in college, am clearing college next year and hoping to move out of home when I do. I am craving for independence!😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, thank you! I do my best to break down the truth as is. This generation had too many things sugar-coated for us.

      I hope you get to move out soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. tammier33 says:

    Omg yes! This is my life right now lol. Great article, Alexis!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. amberdenwood says:

    Never have I read something so relatable

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Amber — that’s good news and bad news! We’re glad we wrote something relatable, but it kinda sucks that you can relate to the problems we list here.

      What has your specific struggle been so far?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. amberdenwood says:

        The never ending job search! I must be the most unemployable person in the world

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know that feeling. How long have you been looking so far?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. And what field are you in?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. amberdenwood says:

        About 4 months! And I studied English so I aren’t even sure what to do with that!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Hmmm… Why don’t you try teaching English to foreigners? Are there a lot of Hispanics in your area?

        Like

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