Life After College: Things Nobody Tells You

College is a joyous time of one’s life, albeit the sloppy times that come from too much partying with friends, not to mention the lack of sleep from choosing to study instead of rest. On days you feel like you’re on cloud nine after acing a test, the world feels like it’s within your reach. Every essay you write is a step closer to graduation, every textbook finished makes that degree feel so attainable. The future seems but a distant dream you’ll one day find yourself in, and it’ll be bright if you just study hard and do your best. Life after college is a thought that many dismiss as it is simple enough: graduate, get a job, and then live. The truth is, though, there are so many things nobody tells you. Nothing can ever prepare you for life after graduation; there are life lessons that the four corners of your school cannot teach you, no matter how far up they are in the Ivy League. Here’s the truth:

Job hunting is, no doubt, a necessity but can be a terrible experience

Yes, you have a degree, but thousands of others are on the same boat. Job hunting after college is like dozens of people trying to get their hands on the last pair of shoes on sale, all at the same time. It’s a survival of the fittest at best, and you’re on your toes, and it none of it feels good. In fact, it’s terrible. After years getting an education, you’re now expected to get a job right away, with thousands of others trying to do the same. To do that, you need to stand out. But how do you stand out when all of you have the same level of experience, same set of skills, and even the same degree? Writing your cover letter will feel even worse than writing your thesis.

Job hunting is a draining process and can be a downright terrible experience.

You may not get the job you’re after

Job hunting is already an incredibly draining endeavor in itself. Despite that, though, and all your efforts of sending stacks of cover letters and resumes, not to mention those countless job interviews, it’s highly likely you won’t get your dream job. It can be devastating, because all your life you’ve been in this bubble of your life as a student, completely safe from the ropes of the real world. You’ve developed this plan of ending up in the career you want, but life after college isn’t what it seems. You’ll probably find yourself in a place that’s “okay”, even if it’s far from your expectations. And that’s okay – people rarely love their first jobs. And you’re still in the process of figuring it out.

Those drinking habits will change 

Hangovers will get worse years after college. Nursing a massive headache in the morning will be such a nuisance, and the vomiting you laugh at in the morning won’t be as fun when you get the lovely task of cleaning your floors up. Showing up hungover to work isn’t acceptable either, unlike back in college when the idea is regarded as cool and fun. Roll out of bed, attend a class or two, get cheers and back pats for coming to class looking and feeling like you’ve just returned from battlefield, and then head back to your dorm to sleep it off – the routine makes dealing with drinking aftermaths extremely simple. With work, though? Don’t think it’s possible to survive a routine 9-to-5 job with a hangover.

Your frugal days are ahead

The typical college dorm life stereotype includes the aspect packs of ramen and microwavable mac and cheese, and that might have been true to your college life story. And just when you think that the prospect of leaving instant food is behind you, and now come days of bliss that come with eating out, we may have to burst your bubble: it isn’t over yet. Yes, you may have a decent paying job, but you may need to pay off those student loans. There are also bills to pay and other expenses that just creep up on you – a broken heater, perhaps. There are things you never thought you’d pay for, but as a young adult formally stepping to the realities of the world, you will have allocate your budget accordingly.

You may have to save every last bit.

An apartment all to yourself? Not just yet

After long days at work, you’ll soon be relishing spending the night by yourself. The charm of going out every night finally wears off, and suddenly a quiet night wrapped up in your sheets with cheap wine on your hand becomes paradise. Your alone time will translate to the desire of wanting your very own space, especially years after sharing dorm rooms and apartments with roommates. The thing about life after college, though, is that you start from the bottom. This means that your current salary may just be enough for now and affording a one-bedroom apartment isn’t for you just yet. The dream is what everyone talks about, but what nobody tells you is that you will do a lot of sitting, working, and waiting. And that apartment dream will have to wait.

Hanging out with friends will be minimal 

Don’t worry, that friendship will linger. But life after college takes you all on different directions. They will get other jobs, meet new people, get into relationships – living separate lives is inevitable, and planning date nights will be extremely hard. Don’t be disheartened, though – keep making an effort. Chances are they’re down for plans, too. As adults trying to survive the wilderness called life, taking time off to meet each other is essential. There’s always a sense of comfort that come with meeting familiar faces.

You'll go on separate ways, but the friendship remains intact.

Your closet will need an upgrade

Life after college is about looking for a job, and basically learning to be an adult. Your closet, though, will see a change, and that’s only part of things nobody tells you. Perhaps your go-to outfit were sweatpants and those trendy dad shoes. Sure, you’ve collected a decent amount of formal basics, like that nicely tailored blazer and some button-down shirts, but that won’t nearly be enough. The demand for more will be high, and soon you’ll find the change seeping in to your personal style – you’ll be trading those sweatpants for a good pair of jeans, and those dad shoes for loafers. As you grow older, so does your taste. 

Your bedtime will change 

You used to scoff at anyone who leaves the party by 10 PM, because why would they? There’s music, booze, and an entire night of fun. Who sleeps at 9 PM, when there’s plenty to watch, and friends to talk to? You’ll be eating your words soon enough, because by the time it’s 8:30 PM, all you will ever want is to snuggle up in your pajamas and comforter. While late night outs can be doable every once in a while, your body will be craving for early bedtimes almost all the time.

Sleep time becomes fun time (for you).

For a while, you’ll feel lost and confused 

And you shouldn’t blame yourself. All your life you have this identity as a student, and then suddenly you’re thrown into the shoes of an adult, where you’re expected to learn every nook and cranny overnight. Life after college is a whirlwind, but what nobody tells you is that everyone’s just making it up as they go along. Even adults who have been doing this for years still have no idea what they’re doing – life unfolds in different ways. You’re not alone in confusion and feeling lost, and the best part? It only gets better from here.

You create your own opportunities

Life after college holds so much pressure, but you need to understand that you already have the skills and talent to create your own opportunities. Many doors will close on you as you scour the big city for that job. Many people will turn their backs and ignore you, so don’t wait around for an employer to validate what you already possess. Your skills are there, all working and useful. So, when everything feels hopeless, open your own doors. This is your life, and there’s no stopping you. 

Opportunities come to those who make them happen.

You may have your entire life plan already laid out for you to follow, but things don’t always go accordingly. Setbacks will be present, and the distant dream of grasping your dream job will remain distant. There are so many things about life after college you’re yet to discover, and even more things nobody tells you about. It will be difficult, and the changes can be ruthless. But the beauty of it all comes with just that – discovering. So, as you figure your way out through this adult life, remember to enjoy the ride