My four years as a full-time student were the best of my life. Even though some days I didn’t realize it or appreciate it, as a recent grad, I definitely do now.
As a college or university student, you might not be able to wait for graduation day. You finally get to say goodbye to your broke student days and hello to a regular paycheque and a comfy full-time job. Well, in theory. Leaving college life behind seemed like the dream to me. But after I ambled across that graduation stage and was pushed off the ledge into the real world, I quickly realized that school left out so many lessons I would soon be forced to learn.
So take it from me, here are some lessons about life after school from a recent grad.
1. School is tough, but not that tough.
Endless all-nighters, exams, studying, projects…it never seemed to end in school. You constantly hear the cries of students everywhere screaming, “I can’t wait till I graduate and this is over!” When the reality is: life as a student does not compare to life as an adult with real work.
There’s a chance (depending on your career) that all-nighters, working late, or even on weekends, will still continue long after school is over. Especially when you’re starting out in the workforce and proving yourself. What’s even worse is that you have to get up first thing in the morning every day and do it all over again. Say goodbye to reading weeks, days off, three-day weekends, sleep-ins and the other luxuries you took for granted as a student. (Oh, what I’d do to have those back again. Come back to me, reading week!)
2. You think you should make how much? Try again.
I learned pretty quickly that the salary expectations I had were pretty out of whack. I didn’t realize this until I graduated and started really job hunting. Tools like PayScale help give you an idea of how much you can expect to make but still aren’t 100% accurate. Each job is different, regardless if they have the same title. I quickly learned that with experience comes a higher paycheque and that breaking even was a reality I’d have to face, especially given how expensive it is for all that adult stuff like an apartment and groceries. Speaking of…
3. Real life is harder on your wallet than you think.
I was lucky enough to have my parents help me out with a lot of my bills throughout college on top of my OSAP loan. But even though I thought I had a good grasp on how much everything in life cost, I didn’t at all. Unless you have the luxury of living at home, you will learn pretty quickly how expensive life is. On an entry-level salary, you’ll be lucky to break even every month. The only thing that made this easier is that all my friends were in the same boat. Be prepared.
4. Finding a job takes work.
This is the one thing I especially wasn’t prepared for. I assumed that with my education to back me up, jobs would come easily. In reality, my life was applying to jobs, non-stop, 7 days a week, till I finally landed my first one.
Finding a job takes work, and the rejection is hard on your ego. Job searching left me seriously questioning what it was that I spent multiple years and thousands of dollars on. Pushing through and trying to be optimistic was the only thing that kept me going. Remember that.
5. You’re great, but so is every other recent grad.
Even if you’re top of your class, involved in clubs, and amazing at what you do, this doesn’t make you better than everyone else. No matter what school you came from, or what your background is, there’s always going to be someone better. This was hard to swallow when first looking for jobs out of school. I’d think I was perfect for the job, ace an interview, and then never hear from them again. It was a harsh realization to face that I was going to have to keep working hard to prove myself and continue to do so throughout my career.
Growing up is downright tough, and although you feel like you stop learning the moment you graduate, you don’t. These lessons were tough ones to learn after graduation, and I wish someone were there to teach them to me beforehand. Hopefully, by reading this I’ve helped make your post-grad life a little easier.
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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.