A NEW COLLEGE YEAR HAS BEGUN, but this isn’t an advice column for freshmen. This is for last year’s class that are just now emerging in the world. Hey grads! This one’s for you.
This also isn’t that “Chicken Soup for the Soul” or “Powerful Resumes That Get You Hired!” advice.
This is real world advice for dealing with the hardest part of graduating: The fall after. Every year since kindergarten has meant an ordered return to school but no longer — now you are out in the world.
Below are a few keys to keep you from failing to launch and becoming stuck in your college years.
1. Avoid the Temptation to Go Back for Grad School
Is grad school starting to sound like a good idea right now? Yes? Then don’t go.
No! Bad grad!
If grad school was essential to your career, or if you actually wanted to pursue it, you would have been planning on it before graduation. Dodging your student loans by acquiring more debt will only dig you a deeper hole while you lose out on early career experience and risk being overqualified.
Worse is if you want to go because you miss the college life. Having life structured into semesters is comforting, but the grad school life is more work and less play.
It’ll be like finals week after week.
2. Don’t Visit Campus More Than Twice a Month
The first year out doesn’t mean you never go back to campus. You still have friends and there are still sports games. So take some time to keep in touch and go to a party. Just limit yourself.
Remember that creepy old guy in his 50s that showed up to parties uninvited? He was just like you once. He graduated and decided to hang around a little after graduation. As his friends moved on, he befriended the new crop of freshman, who assumed he was a grad student. Until it got to the point that suddenly everyone he parties with now wasn’t even born when he was a freshman.
I remember when this was all cornfields, and your parents danced naked on LSD!
Indulge a little, but find a social circle that has graduated and transition to places where you won’t get drunk and disorderly citations from campus police.
3. Drop Your College Job
College jobs vary, from the cool ones where everyone parties, hooks up and the work is easy, to the crappy ones where you rue your peers as you shampoo vomit out of the dorm carpets.
Dammit, I hate it when the Students Against Drunk Driving group fall off the wagon.
While the staff at the college is essential if you look close enough you’ll find a few of those janitors have a college degree, yet never moved out of the job they took for beer money.
Same with the aging bouncer with a liberal arts degree and the pizza delivery guy with a degree in chemistry.
At least your weed dealer started his own business with his MBA. Don’t stick around the college simply because resume-writing is a pain in the ass.
4. Don’t Become a Townie
So you have skipped grad school and quit you college job. Good for you. But don’t think your loophole to become a townie is going to get you off.
If the only job you can find is near the college, take it. But don’t limit yourself to the surrounding area just so you can stick around campus. While it works when you are in your twenties, as you get your career started the late night revelry eats into your productivity.
Buying a home cheap in the student ghetto is fun at first, but when you get married and start a family it loses its gritty charm when you have to resuscitate drunk students every Sunday morning.
“Can you give my friend a ride home without asking too many questions?”
Branch out. There is a big world out there.
5. Join Your Alumni Group
If you want a connection to college without being the awkward old guy, you can join the local alumni group.
You could search online or contact you campus alumni office. Or just wait for them to call to hit you up for donations. Trust me, they will.
Donate to the endowment? But you’re a for-profit online degree mill I used to get a promotion.
You get the best of both worlds. You can hang out with like-minded people and stay connected, but the people will be closer to your age and ability to stay up late get drunk.
6. Mentor Other Young Grads When You Have Your Life Together
As you move away from school you will start to thrive in the real world. You’ll get a great job, live in a cool place and have several friends, some from college and other from the many travels in your life. But you’ll still feel a tug of the heartstrings thinking about your college days. Rather than spending your time wistfully going through your old Facebook posts, you should consider mentoring new grads.
Dressing in character is highly discouraged, however.
Mentoring is a means of paying it forward. Your life experience can help new grads skip the simple mistakes you had in starting out in your career, housing search and living independently. You can be their Morpheus, Gandalf or Yoda.