You just graduated! You crossed the stage, shook the president’s hand, turned your tassel and accepted your long-awaited degree. What a triumphant victory. Or you might be staring down your last semester in this town you’ve called home for the last four (or more) years. Either way, your life is about to change in some pretty major ways. Some of these changes are great, and some of them are challenging, but you should be prepared for them either way.
1. No more homework! You will have far more free time when you are home, but, paradoxically, your stress levels might never be higher. This is because your homework is now replaced with deadlines. Bills are due and work-project deadlines start to consume your mind even when you are sitting on the couch watching Netflix. Beware of the “when” trap, which can add to your stress. “I’ll be happy when...I get this promotion.” “I’ll be happy when ... I get this new job.” Realize that your life is happening right now, and that the only true waste of your life is putting off your happiness.
2. Sleep becomes more important. It might seem a shame that your days of staying up until 2 a.m. binge watching “The Office” have come to an end, but you should invest in yourself by getting between seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Your coworkers will be able to tell if you are constantly sleep deprived, which can come across as unprofessional.
3. Consider credit. If you want to buy a house, a car or other big-ticket item you’ll need to start building your credit. Credit is a Catch-22, however. You need good credit to apply for loans, but to get credit you need to have good payment history--which requires you to have debt. Those student loans you have? They can affect your credit score, so when you apply for your first round of credit, be prepared to get rejected. Even companies that claim you are “pre-approved” might back peddle when they actually pull your credit report (which, by the way, also hurts your score). Remember, when you have credit, it is very easy to dig yourself into a hole that you will struggle getting out of, so be careful.
4. It’s time to eat better. As you get older, your body will start to reject your diet of Hot Pockets and spaghetti. It might start to happen sooner than you think. Though it seems expensive to buy better food, you can find cheaper healthy options if you shop around. Keep an eye out for deals as you look at different stores.
5. There's a quote that's often used in higher education that often is attributed to Jon Acuff: “When you leave college, you are leaving the tightest, largest concentration of people who are your age.” This transition can feel pretty lonely. You'll have more colleagues than friends, and seeing your friends will take a lot more effort.This is not all bad, because the relationships in which you put effort become closer than ever. You also might become a lot closer to your family; they have a lot more experience “adulting” than you do, and there is no shame in asking them for advice. It’s better to ask advice than get hit with an $800 inspection bill you didn’t expect.
You do not need to go through the after-college transition time alone. If moving and developing all new networks of friends and colleagues is something that seems scary, the Leadership in Action Team has you covered. It is hosting a Tweet & Eat on Jan. 15 that will help you foster your people skills. If you have any other questions, or if you just want to see what others have to say about developing their people skills, register and tweet using #pspleadership to participate.
“Finding out what you don't like is just as important as finding out what you do. Do not stay in a bad working environment as the toxic mentalities and habits will sink into your daily lives. Don't be afraid to quit, there will be another job. And, don't take life too seriously or be too set in your own routines. It's okay to skip the gym every once in awhile. It's okay to stay out a little past when you should on occasion. Sometimes in life when you need a good moment,don't wait for it to happen; create the moment yourself.” - Kelsey Flynn, Delta Mu ’12
Do you have advice for your fellow graduating cohort or future graduating seniors? Do you have photos of your graduation regalia? Send them Christopher Kostelnik, Alumni Relations Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and they might be featured in a future blog post!