Adjusting to Life After College: My Experience & Tips for Success

It’s a really strange feeling.

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Girl holding graduation cap

For the last three months of my senior year, the only thing on my mind was graduation. Every morning I woke up and crossed a day off of my countdown. It was a routine for me. I was applying for jobs and looking forward to the next chapter in my life.

Fast forward to present day and I’m leaving for New York in a few days. I’ve known for quite some time that I was going to move to New York after graduating, but I didn’t make it public knowledge in case I were to jinx it. For those of you wondering, I don’t have a job. I’m still waiting to hear back from a few places. Initially that really scared me. I’m a recent graduate moving to one of the most expensive cities and I don’t have a job?? It’s fine. I’ll make it. I’m learning that things fall into place at different times. I have a roommate, I have a place to live. My main focus is getting a job. Wish me luck, please! 

My advice for you: Don’t be afraid to take a jump. Apply for your dream job, move to a big city. I am a very cautious person. I’ve always taken the safe route and for the first time in my life I’m taking a leap of faith. If you’re going to do it, right after college is the time. As a recent graduate, I’m not tied down to anything. I’m focusing on myself and that’s exactly what you should be doing too.

As far as the transition from a full time student to full time adult goes, that was weird. The first few days at home I kept thinking that I had to pack my suitcase to go back to school soon and that I had homework I needed to get done. And then I’d pinch myself. So I spent some time doing the best possible thing I could do with no responsibilities left to worry about — hang out with my friends from back home.

My advice for you: Call your friends as soon as you get home, it’s not like you have homework to worry about. Friends you haven’t seen since high school perhaps. Hang out with them before you move away or start a new job. Nine times out of ten there’s usually a period of one or two weeks before you start your job. Go out to lunch with them and reminisce because once your professional life starts, it’s such a fast track and who knows where it’ll take you. 

Goodbyes were so odd, too. Most of my friends are moving to New York, or at least have plans to so I wasn’t sure how emotional the goodbyes had to be. After the graduation ceremony there were people everywhere and we all got separated. I drove home the night after graduation and realized that I hadn’t really said a lot of long goodbyes to anyone. Saying goodbye to my roommates hit me the hardest. We spent endless days/nights doing homework in the living room, watching Law and Order: Special Victims Unit marathons and going out to get food at all hours of the night. I will miss them so much.

My advice for you: If your roommate asks you to go with her to McDonald’s for chicken nuggets at 1:00 am then go! I know that might sound weird, but sometimes the most random and spontaneous things you do with your college roommates/friends turn out to be the best memories. Enjoy them while you can!

I don’t miss college. Let me rephrase that. I miss my friends and all the fun we had but I’ll never wish for another exam or final paper or reading assignment. That type of stress is the worst.  So many people will tell you how much you’ll miss college and wish to go back. Don’t believe them!

Most importantly, don’t compare yourself to other graduates. Some of them might have had job offers before graduation and for others it might take a month or two. Everyone is going to progress at a different rate and that’s okay. There’s not a right or wrong way. There’s no guide to how “life after college” has to go. It’s hard to remember that and I’m still trying to tell myself that. 

Once you get to this point, just be proud of yourself, you graduated college and that’s an incredible accomplishment in itself.

I know the biggest chapter of my life is ahead of me. It makes me really nervous, but of course I’m excited. My four years of college helped to shape the person I am today. Mercyhurst University will always hold a special place in my heart, but I cannot wait for what’s to come.

Any recent college grads? What are your post-grad plans? Maybe I’ll see some of you in New York! Comment below.

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