They say that college is the best four years of your life and they’re not wrong! College is an amazing four years, but sadly, it just can’t last forever. Sure, you might end up being there for a little longer than four years, but eventually, college has to end, and you need to graduate and enter that scary place called “the real world.” There will be a ton of crazy life changes after you graduate. You’ll have more responsibility than you ever have before, and it can be both stressful and freeing! Lots of college students dread graduation day because they know that they really have to grow up and be adults now. College is like a trial run for adulthood, but you still get to have a lot of fun in between school and work. Adulthood can be a lot tougher. Here are the 15 biggest struggles of life after college.
15. Saying goodbye to your friends
Your friends are the best part of college. The friends you meet in college are the people who you will truly cherish forever. You will probably be much closer to your college friends than your high school friends. They’ve seen you at your highest and your lowest, and they have been your shoulder to cry on for four years. You sat together in the dining hall, you struggled through your toughest classes side by side, and you celebrated together every weekend. Saying goodbye to your college friends and going in separate directions is definitely the toughest part about graduating college. Throwing your caps in the air together is an awesome moment of celebration, but it also marks the moment that your lives will start to go down different paths. It’s sad, but remember, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and you will stay close if you put in the effort.
14. Staying sober
College sometimes feels like one big party, right? You don’t live with your parents anymore, so you don’t have to deal with strict curfews or rules like that anymore. You have a lot more freedom! You can go out partying pretty much any night of the week if you want to. Of course, you probably don’t want to go out THAT much, but hey, sometimes you just need to live it up. College is basically a four-year celebration if you do it right. Obviously, you need to take it seriously when it comes to academics, but you can also blow off steam pretty much every weekend if you want to. But when you graduate, you need to stay sober far more often. College drinking habits will not serve you well in the real world, so you need to learn to live a much healthier lifestyle and have fun sober instead.
13. Dressing professionally
If you want to wear sweatpants to class every single day in college, well, guess what you can totally do that. Sure, you might look a little sloppy, but so will most of the other people sitting in your lecture hall. College is a fun time to figure out your personal style. You might try thrift shopping and putting together creative outfits on a budget. Plus, you can borrow clothes from your friends down the hall! If you have a good group of girlfriends in college, you basically have access to all of their closets, and therefore, your wardrobe grows. Sharing is caring! But after graduation, you need to change up your look and get a little more serious. You’ll probably want some professional outfits for job interviews and once you do land a job, you’ll need some “workplace casual” looks. If you want to be successful, you need to dress the part!
12. When people ask what you’re doing with your life
During college, people will always have a million of the same little questions for you. They’ll ask you what your major is, and they’ll ask you how your grades are. And they’ll also ask you what your plans are for after graduation. Early on in college, it’s not a big deal if you just kind of shrug and say, “Well, I’m not really sure yet!” But at a certain point, people might think of you as immature or unprepared if you don’t have a good answer. During senior year of college, questions like this will only become more and more common, and people will expect certain answers from you. And after graduation, get ready for people to be extremely nosy about your plans. They will definitely ask about the jobs you’re applying for and what career path you’re going down. Make sure you’re ready for these kinds of annoying questions!
11. Feeling clueless
When you’re in college, everyone knows you don’t have to have it all figured out yet. Sure, at some point you need to pick a major, and eventually, you might end up choosing a minor as well. You might pick up an internship or two to pad your resume and get a little work experience. And you’ll learn a few things about life in the real world. You’ll probably be responsible for some of your own finances and saving your own money rather than just mooching off your parents all the time, and you’ll learn some basic cooking skills and all that fun domestic stuff. But after graduation, you might still feel totally clueless. The real world can be super confusing. How do adults do it all? How do they manage all their endless responsibilities? It might just seem absolutely impossible to figure it all out, but that feeling is totally normal.
10. Setting a real budget
You probably learned the importance of paying attention to your spending in college. But many college students are proudly “broke.” They brag about being broke like it’s a badge of honor. So during college, you might think it’s fine to spend a little too much every once in a while. It’s easy to ignore the damage you’re doing to your wallet when you’re out having a good time with your friends! And who is really thinking about their savings when you’re hitting up your favorite late night restaurant for a plate of hot wings? No one, that’s who. But once you graduate, you definitely need to start paying attention to your savings. You’ll probably have many new financial responsibilities, so you’ll want to make a real budget that includes everything you need to live comfortably and actually save some money no more splurging on outfits for crazy theme parties on the weekends!
9. Paying all your bills
It is clear that one major difference between life during college and life after college has to do with money. During college, depending on how much your parents could support you, they may have paid for some things. They might have put money towards your tuition, room and board, and also expenses like books. But once you graduate and get a real job, that’s all on you! Plus, you’ll have to start paying off those student loans that you spent four years trying not to think about. Once you’re out on your own, you’ll have to pay your rent and keep that roof over your head. You’ll also be responsible for your phone bill and Internet, no more relying on the free Wifi in the dorms! And all the food you used to hoard from the dining hall? Well, get used to grocery shopping on a budget instead of cafeteria cuisine.
8. Relationships vs. hook ups
Hook up culture is just a part of life at college. Hooking up with new people all the time is pretty much just seen as normal these days. Sure you might get some nasty comments about it every now and then, but for the most part, people in college enjoy having the freedom to meet new people and hook up instead of settling down and getting into serious relationships. The past four years were probably a lot of fun in the “casual dating” department, but you might have ignored any possibilities of serious relationships. But now that you have graduated, you might want to start thinking about actually dating someone who you truly like and plan on staying with for a while. Of course, no one has to rush anything, and you should never get into a serious relationship if you’re not ready but it’s something to consider now that you’re in the real world!
7. Trying to “adult”
The silly phrase “adulting” has been thrown around a lot lately. Is that even a real world? Well, no. So what does it even mean? Basically, recent graduates use the made-up word “adulting” to describe how they struggle to act like real adults. For example, if someone manages to pay all their bills on time, go to the gym, eat healthy, and actually spend a little time having a social life, they might feel like they’re “adulting” pretty well. But if someone is surviving off ramen, still hooking up with losers that they found on Tinder, and their apartment is a total mess, they might complain that they’re just the worst at “adulting.” Clearly, this generation really struggles with that transition period between college and adulthood! When you’ve just graduated, you can feel like you’re stuck in limbo between being a carefree twenty-something and being a serious, professional adult, it’s tough!
Leaving your friends and the college social scene is one of the worst parts of life after graduation. It’s actually really common to feel a little bit lonely and depressed after you graduate college. After all, you’re not around the same people every day anymore. You might move somewhere new where you don’t have many friends, and you might be struggling to meet new people. You might not get along with your new coworkers as well as you got along with your classmates or old roommates. You might be in a different graduate school where you feel so swamped with work that you just don’t have any time to socialize and get to know anyone who you could connect with. Life after college can definitely feel a little lonely sometimes it’s perfectly normal, and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. It’s just a tough reality of growing up and moving on with your life.
5. Going back to campus
At some point after graduation, you might end up back on campus. Maybe there will be some kind of alumni event, maybe you’ll be back in the area for some other reason and just decide to swing by and walk around, or maybe you’ll be visiting a friend who is still in the process of finishing up their degree. Either way, in the year or so following graduation, chances are you will end up back on your campus for at least a day or two. Going back to campus can cause a lot of complicated emotions. You might feel really excited to be back at first and remember all the good times you spent there. You might feel a little strange about seeing some of the changes that inevitably took place after you graduated. Or you might start to feel really sad and nostalgic about college life and the past four years.
4. Eating healthy
During college, you might not have tried very hard to be healthy. You probably ate a lot of dining hall food that might not have been so great for you. All those burgers, fries and chicken wings can really add up over the years! Even if you never gained that dreaded “freshman fifteen,” you still might have put on a couple pounds. And even if you didn’t gain weight, you probably were not living the healthiest lifestyle. College is a very stressful time in your life even though it’s a lot of fun, there can also be a lot of pressure that can cause you anxiety. So it’s pretty common to turn to drinking, something, or other unhealthy habits to ease that stress. After graduation, you really need to establish healthy habits and eat nutritious food that will make you feel good. Time to hit the produce aisles of the grocery store!
3. Letting go of old habits
There are certain habits that students have that you really can’t find anywhere else. They’re unique to college campuses. First of all, drinking like a maniac and looking for any excuse for a celebration. Second, wearing sweatpants because literally nothing else is clean and you just can’t be bothered to do laundry. And third, pulling all nighters because you have procrastinated so badly that you just have no choice but to write a ten-page paper in one night even though you knew about it for a month in advance. But after graduation, habits like that have just got to go. Being a student is definitely hard work, but you have so much freedom, which includes the freedom to be a little lazy sometimes and screw up every once in a while with limited consequences. But as an adult, that’s not really the case anymore, so get to work on those bad habits!
2. Making serious decisions
You definitely have to make some big decisions. First of all, just choosing to go to college is a big decision! And deciding exactly where to go to college is very important as well. Picking the right major and minor is significant, and you might have to make some tough choices regarding internships and part-time jobs during college as well. So even though you weren’t quite in the real world yet, you probably did have to make some decisions with important consequences over the past four years. But after college, the decisions you make might be even bigger and scarier. You’ll have to decide which type of career path you want to pursue maybe you decide to chase a lifelong dream, or you decide to go with something safer and more comfortable. Eventually, you’ll have to make choices about marriage or kids, where you want to live, and big financial decisions like buying a home.
1. Figuring out who you really are
College might have been the absolute best four years of your life, and many other people feel the same way! But one of the biggest struggles of life after college is figuring out what you want to do with the rest of your life. It’s stretching out in front of you, just waiting to see what you will do. Life doesn’t end after graduation. You don’t have to be a stereotypical boring adult. Your life can be exciting, lively, and colorful. You can do anything you set out to do. Figuring out who you truly are deep down inside and deciding what you really want to do is definitely a lot of pressure, and it can be really scary. It’s okay to feel that way! It’s not the end of the world. It’s a struggle, but it’s a positive one. Someday, you’ll figure out who you are truly meant to be!