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When you're a student in college, all you can think about is the finish line, graduation, but what happens when you cross it?
People often give advice on how to survive your first year of college and how to get to graduation. However, many people don't talk about what life is like once you graduate.
These are the things that no one tells you.
You may not know what to do next.
Not everyone graduates with a job offer or even a plan for what's next. That can be intimidating, but it's okay. Take a deep breath. You graduated and you have the degree. If you need to, take some time to reflect on what you want for your future and then make your next plan of action. Options are endless so research thoroughly and then decide what you want to do. You crossed the finish line and obtained your degree and now it's time to find another race to run or another mountain to climb.
Post-graduate depression is real and you'll most likely feel a form of it.
After college, everyone either moves back home or relocates for various reasons. You are going to find yourself away from the friends that you built close bonds with and that may trigger you. You may also find yourself in a state of sadness because you feel unfulfilled. This is especially true if you've had trouble landing a job. According to an article by the Washington Post, millennials have the highest rates of depression and anxiety compared to any other generation. Job concerns are high on the list of things millennials are worried about and social media also adds to that anxiety and depression of life after college, because it looks like other people have their lives figured out when you don't.
According to Her Campus, you may be suffering from post-graduate depression if you have a loss of motivation, you feel stuck, and you're turning to social media way more than you should.
Another sign of post-graduate depression is substance abuse. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression and/or substance abuse, you can get help here.
The work world is not as rewarding.
Maybe this is just my personal opinion as an entry-level employee at my company, but busting your butt was worth it when you passed the class, got the GPA spike, or even received recognition from a professor. In the working world, you show up, do your job and get a paycheck every other week. Whether you commit 110 percent or just 75 percent, the paycheck still arrives.
In college, there were sessions of cramming in the library and persevering through group projects all to get the outcome that would be so rewarding. When you get to your job, you'll hope that everything is fulfilling, especially when you give it your all...but it isn't. That intense decrease in things that make you full can contribute to the sadness you feel after graduating college.
You experience a different type of broke.
Remember the times in college when you used to eat such horrible food, but it was cheap so you didn't feel bad? Well, after college, you truly learn the meaning behind "there's food at home." Whether you move into an apartment and get a job or move into student housing for graduate school, bills still continue to roll in. I did not realize how many monthly bills I would have to pay. Rent, utilities, car insurance, groceries, gas...and then the dreaded six months passed and it was time to pay back student loans.
Just six months after you cross the stage and transition into the real world, the government somehow thinks you have it together enough to begin paying back a whole lot of money. Set a reminder in your phone that you need to prepare to pay your student loans back. I completely forget, didn't mark it down in my calendar and one day I woke up to a notification of missed payment. Then it was days of being buried in paperwork and being on the phone convincing the student loan people that I couldn't afford to pay their fee, and then I had to prove it.
Don't get caught off guard. Now if you're going to pursue graduate school, make sure to defer those payments. If you're going to start working, make sure you get onto a payment plan that you can afford. It's important that you get this done, but don't stress too much about it. The debt is not going anywhere and truthfully, you'll be paying it back for the rest of your life. That brings me right into my next point...
College teaches you nothing about personal finance.
If you majored in economics or a form of business, then this may not necessarily apply to you. As a person who majored in communication, I am exceptionally skilled with words, but when it comes to finance, that's a completely different story.
When you get to college, all of a sudden, different credit card companies begin sending you offers that look pretty tempting. Many college students take the bait and then end up with credit card debt. It's a cycle that they don't know how to break out of because they don't have the financial skills they need.
Out of all the required classes forced down the throats of college students, personal finance is not one of them. College students are being forced to study things they have no interest in, but yet they don't understand the basic financial principles that will set them up for a bright future.
If you're like most and you did not learn anything about personal finance from your college curriculum, you'll have to learn these lessons on your own and work harder to protect your money.
Thanks to modern technology, there are an abundant amount of apps that can help you do just that.
The real world is a tad bit scary.
In college, there were professors, counseling services, and other places you could go for help in the different areas. Those outlets are not as readily available in your post-graduate life.
For those who had a positive college experience, graduating seems exciting, but you then realize you left an environment that was stable and gave you constant support. Chances are you and all your friends lived together or near each other, you had a support system readily available to you through peers and staff and now it's all gone. What do you do now?
Now you have to find a new support system. It may seem like your coworkers, cohort, or new classmates aren't it, but you have to give it time.
Do your best to keep in touch with the people who have made a difference in your life in college. They can be extremely helpful to you, even if they can't be there for you physically.
You're going to miss it.
While in college, you dream about the day you'll cross the stage and receive your diploma, but you're going to miss it. You'll miss sitting in the dining hall with your friends, you'll miss seeing your favorite professors, you'll wonder what will happen to the clubs and organizations you leave behind, and you'll wonder how long your legacy will live on. You'll wonder if you did enough if you could've worked harder and then you think about what you might've done differently.
Don't think like that. What was meant to happen...happened.
I finally understand why people say that college is the "best four years of your life."
College is where you form lasting friendships and some discover who they really are.
Now that you've crossed the finish line, it's time to find and conquer your next challenge.