how to adapt to life after college
Posted : May 3, 2004
Last Updated : February 16, 2016
You've been in school for the majority of your life. What will your life be like now that you are graduating from college? How will you adapt?
The transition from college student to working professional affects almost all aspects of your life. Not only will you have to adapt at work, but you will also have to adapt to your new life outside of work. After graduating from college, you may find it difficult to progress into the "real world." Here are some tips to help you out.
Make new friends. After graduation, you and your college friends may disperse to other states in order to pursue careers. Eventually, you may lose touch with even your closest of friends. If this happens, it is imperative that you build new relationships. Make friends with people you work with or get involved with your community in order to meet new people.
Say goodbye to your copious free time. In college, it is easy to schedule classes only two or three days a week so you can have days off. However, once you have that full-time job, your days off will be few and far between. If you're lucky, you'll get two weeks of vacation at your first job. Use those two weeks to reenergize. Spend your weekends (or whatever days you have off) wisely too.
Set goals. Even though you have reached your goal of obtaining a college degree, you still have many more goals to achieve. What do you want to do with your professional life? Do you want to climb the corporate ladder? Own your own business? Turn your hobby into a career? What about your personal life? Do you want to buy a house? Travel the world? Do you see kids in your future? Think hard about the goals that you want and strive every day to achieve them.
Change sleeping habits. Once you enter the "real world," there will be no more staying up until six in the morning. Six o’clock will more than likely be the time you have to get up and get ready for work. Say goodbye to nap time too. With a standard forty-hour work week, you won't get to take five-hour naps anymore. Try to go to bed at a decent hour so you will be refreshed for work. You should try to get around eight hours of sleep per night.
Purchase work attire. Transitioning from a college student to a working professional means trading in those torn jeans and sneakers for more appropriate attire. If you want to be seen as a professional, you have to look the part. Save the t-shirts for the weekend and invest in a business appropriate wardrobe to wear through the week.
Find a place to crash. Do you know where you are going to live after graduation? You could always move back in with your parents (if they don't object) and save some money. If you choose this option, be sure to discuss house rules with your parents. It's always hard for a college student, who has been pretty independent for the last four or more years, to move back in with his or her parents and follow their rules. Be sure to discuss with them how much you have grown over the past few years. Just remember: if you want to be treated like an adult, you need to act like one. If moving back in with your parents is definitely not an option, then you have other decisions that you need to make. Do you want to rent or buy? Do you want a roommate? Do you want to move out of state? These are just a few of the questions you need to consider.
Learn to manage your finances. As soon as you land a job, you should enroll in a 401k, 403b, or another retirement plan. This will allow you to plan a sound retirement as well as teach you how to save money. You will also need to budget wisely. If you are low on cash for the month and your rent or mortgage is due, don't buy those shoes you have been eyeing. Wait until you can afford them. Furthermore, if you use credit cards on a regular basis, try to pay off the balance in full each month. Once you are in debt, it takes a lot of will power to get out of it.
Be prepared for entry-level jobs. Even though you have a college degree, don't expect to have the perfect job and bring in a huge paycheck. A large number of the jobs available to new grads are entry-level. These jobs often require long hours, low pay, and hard work. Most employers want to see all employees start at a certain level in order to better understand the business. Working hard at this entry-level job will show your employer that you are dedicated and thus open up new doors for you.
Network wisely. As you transition from college life to the working world, don't overlook important associations that can contribute to your professional advancement. Stay in contact with old professors, friends, or family members who have connections with people in major corporations and organizations. These people may let you know when they are aware of opportunities that could benefit you.
Knowing what to expect after graduation and following some of these guidelines should help launch your post college life on a positive note. The transition into the "real world" may be shocking at first, but you will become acclimated to it after a while. Good luck!