Getting ready to graduate college, lots of folks seems to have this bizarre, mass hysteria about how they’ll spend their futures in an alleyway, sheltered by a cardboard box and a bullet-proof barrier of coats. I remember at my graduation, hearing an a collective scoff from my peers as the dean recited some rote line about our “bright futures” that he had been using for 15 years. But it’s easy to give in to cynicism; a real test of mettle is to spit in the eye of cynicism. Sure, you may not feel prepared for the real world after you finish school. Instead, just know that the world is prepared for you, and there’s no reason to lose your cool.
Out of the Starting Gate
Having graduated college at all, you’re already leagues ahead of other folks. Chances are, if you were able to get even get through four years of college at all, you’re capable (or lucky) enough to get through life just fine.
Looking back, you need to think about what you’ve learned. And I don’t mean the shit you regurgitated on a piece of paper for a grade, I’m talking about your experiences. Even if you can’t remember all of the theories, formulas or hard facts you were supposed to know, you learned how to balance aspects of your life, how to critically think, or even how to foster relationships with others.
Sure, you may have loans that you need to pay off. And yeah, maybe the degree you got isn’t exactly in the field you dreamed of originally. But here’s what’s important: you have a degree. You have that special, very expensive piece of paper that tells everyone that you are qualified. That little piece of paper opens so many opportunities that you would have otherwise had no access to without it.
You Have Time
As a senior, you start to feel like you’re getting older. However, age is always relative to those around you. Of course you feel old in your early 20s when you’re hanging around 18 and 19-year-olds. What high school does for physical maturity, college does for intellectual and emotional maturity, and you feel how wide that developmental gulf can be when you talk to freshmen. But for the rest of the world, you’re practically still a kid, so not everything has to happen for you as soon as you graduate.
Graduating college today is not the same as it was graduating 10 years ago; the job market has significantly improved and, depending on your field, you can always find some way to use your degree to make money. It’s just a matter of putting rubber to the road and finding a job yourself, because they won’t come to you. The sea is full of fish, but you’ll never catch one if you don’t throw out a hook.
The “Perfect” Job
Fact is, the chances of getting your dream job right after graduating are extremely low. You’ll have to spend some time feeling out different companies before you find one that sticks. But that’s the beauty of being a college graduate: you have options. You don’t need to lock yourself into a civil service job for the rest of your life, never leaving so that you can get a pension when you retire. You can bounce around between different jobs, all the while building a resume and a portfolio of experience.
This may not appeal to everyone, but the idea of a 9-5 gig is not so bad when you think about it. You go in, do your work, and go home. There’s no homework, no real due dates (depending on your job), no exams, no studying; your work life and your social life become oil and water. Personally, this is something I tell every soon-to-be college graduate to look forward to, especially if they procrastinated on every single one of their school assignments like I did. It’s nice to leave work at work.
What the “Real World” Is
The “real world” is something college professors like to lord over students to scare them into complying, conforming to their rules, their classroom, their syllabus. “Out in the real world you can’t…” blah, blah, we’ve heard it all before. But what is the “real world” really? To imply that life after graduation is the “real world” is to imply that college life is a “fake world.” So, I’m more than thrilled to be living in a real world, instead of the idealistic, isolated bubble of a dream world that many college students inhabit. Because in my experience, the real world is a better place to meet real people.