As of tomorrow, I will have been out of college for four years. I have been working full-time since my graduation (believe me, I am grateful to have been employed this whole time), making decisions for myself, paying my own way, and learning how to live within my means. I know I still have a lot of luxuries as a single person with no dependents, but I think I am at a point where I now where I'm starting to relate more to the adults than to the college kids.
The four year mark is also significant for me because it means that I have been out in the real world for just as long as I was in college. I am coming to terms with the fact that this is my life now, and the only changes that come from this point forward are ones that I initiate myself.
So in line with all the blogs and news sites that are giving advice to struggling college grads, here’s my advice to you:
Make the most of every opportunity provided to you. Don’t hold out for your ideal, because it might never come. If you find a new path that looks interesting to you, explore it.
Skills are important, but your ability to adapt is probably more important. Change can be a good thing. It can lead you to more opportunities, more friends, and new career paths. Never be afraid to explore something new, even if it means putting your current dreams on hold.
Higher education isn’t for everyone. My dad is still desperately holding out hope that one day I will decide to go to grad school, but I am working in a field where job experience is more valuable (and profitable) than schooling. If you can find ways to expand your knowledge base and build your resume without dishing out $100k in tuition, then you should probably reconsider applying to grad school.
The prestige of your university isn’t always important. Are you looking to going into a career in academia? If not, then whether or not your school is prestigious might not be that important. Having the degree is the biggest value. If you can get a comparable education at a cheaper, less prestigious school, do it.
Your job is not your life. It should be fulfilling, and you should enjoy it, but it shouldn’t consume your every waking moment. There is a whole big world outside the office walls. Get out, meet people, enjoy the time you have.
Learn to be selfish. Our parents taught us not to be greedy, but all that time they were looking out for us, making sure we weren’t being taken advantage of. In adulthood, we have to look out for ourselves, both in our personal lives and in our careers. Never be afraid to fight for your own well being.