As I am wrapping up my sixth semester at Ohio State, I have found myself looking to the horizon at my future in the professional world, and honestly, I’m scared. So what do I do when I’m scared? Well I call my big sister, of course.
My sister, Brittany, graduated almost three years ago and is now a fourth-grade teacher in Houston, Texas. I took some time to ask her my questions about life after college and I figured I’d share some of her answers with you all.
How did you originally prepare for life after college?
Well, lucky for me I had someone to talk to before graduating. She asked me three very important questions that you should ask yourself before you jump into the big world:
What do you look for in terms of friendships and other relationships? This question is very important. You want to know what you want in the new friends you’re going to make in your adult life. Know the characteristics you search for in other people and seek these types of people out. Also, Keep in contact with your closest friends from school! Even if you don’t live close to them anymore, these are the people who are going to help you improve and be the best you can be during this crucial transition. This support system is vital!
What do you require financially? First things first, decide exactly what job you are looking for, figure out how much you would be making and whether that salary will allow you to live the life you desire. Or set up a plan to get to where you want to be.
Where do you want to live? Will your salary allow you to live where you want? (suburbs, major city, etc.). Or are you willing to live with your parents until you find a job that will allow you the livelihood you’re looking for? If you definitely don’t want to go back to living with your parents, what steps are you willing to take to prevent that from happening? (accepting a job that may not be your favorite but pays well, working two jobs, etc.) For me, my living situation really took some getting used to, I went from a college campus in Indiana to the major city of Houston, Texas.
What did you feel like you were not prepared for?
As much as I prepared for stuff, asking questions and getting advice from mentors, I still truly felt unprepared. And that’s completely natural. It was a shock for me because I moved to a completely new city, thousands of miles away from my school. But either way adulthood is a giant step from college life, so it takes some getting used to.
One thing I was not prepared for was the realization that my friends no longer live right down the hall from me. I used to be able to hang out with my friends whenever I wanted, but that is clearly not the case anymore. Adults are a lot harder to become friends with than college students, you can’t just hit someone up at 2 o’clock in the afternoon to eat ice cream and watch movies. People have jobs.
Another major aspect that I was not prepared for was dealing with money, specifically finances with food. Once I started getting paid regularly, I kept going out to eat and didn’t realize how much money I could’ve saved by going grocery shopping. I mean, getting my first paycheck, I had never seen that much money in my life before. Thought I was rich. Then 6 months later I realized I had student loans to pay back, and I thought hmmm definitely should’ve saved that money I was blowing. I was just always thinking “Maaan I’m young, I get paid every two weeks I can blow this check real quick on chipotle and pizza and I’ll make it right back.” That mindset will really get you messed up though, I had to learn to budget.
Speaking of student loans…
Oh yeah let’s get into that. If you took out real loans for your education (meaning like every semester for four years) your monthly loan payments after you graduate will be at least $200/month. Consider it a monthly bill just like your rent, car insurance, phone, all that stuff. And make sure you have a job with which you can afford to pay all those bills. And yeah you get a six month grace period, but that doesn’t mean you should just sit around doing nothing during that time. Get prepared early! Start saving up so you’re not paying your loan payments with every paycheck you make.
Yep, so I have loan forgiveness because I technically work for the state in a Title 1 district school (based on socioeconomic status) so some of my loans will get wiped away after 5 years (as long as y’alls president doesn’t mess this up).
Also, if you’re reading this in high school try your BEST not to have to take out loans. Don’t get me started on capitalism, but if you need to, take a year off after high school graduation and start saving up for college. Then you can enroll into school with a little less pressure financially. Enter EVERY scholarship application you can as a high school junior or senior. Trust meee as someone who will be paying off their loans for many many years, this is something I want others to avoid as much as they can. Being in debt is not lit. its not lit.
You mentioned how hard it was coming to a new city; what did you do to remain social?
Honestly I went to church and found a community of people who had the same interests and beliefs as me. But really I just recommend you find people who are interested in the things you’re interested in. So you could find a fitness group, a gamer group, a group of artists, just find a community that you would enjoy spending time with. And also just put yourself out there, you’d be surprised to find that other people at this stage in life are looking for friends too. Most young adults just like you are lonely, and scared to step out. Be the one who does!
Yeah but you’ve always been the extroverted one. What if I’ve never been the type to step out?
I went to stuff. Just stuff. I don’t know, game nights, watch parties, weird get-togethers. (You are going to meet new people. If that scares you, girrrrl tighten your shoelaces and put your game face on.) Even if you’re tired, you gotta recognize the importance of relationships and go to that weird board game party on a Friday night after a long week of work. And invite people into your life! Who knows what that person is interested in, but you could have something in common that you would’ve never known had you not reached out. And this could be an opportunity to show someone love.
Also super pro tip: DON’T FLAKE ON PEOPLE. That’s a good way for people to stop inviting you to stuff. Trust me I learned that the hard way.
Hahaha you’ve always been a frosted flake. So did you see any changes in yourself after college?
Hm, not much but leaving college definitely made me value alone time. My days are very routine, and that’s weird coming out of the spontaneity of college. But its made me love routine, like I need my routine. I’ve become more structured and that makes me less likely to veer from the schedule even if people want to hang out. I mean, I spend most of my time with people so having that evening to myself has become more and more important to me.
Any last tips, or things to look out for?
Keep in contact with your friends. I cant say that enough. I say that from experience, I’ve been terrible at it but that support system is so vital. And you have no clue what people are going through unless you check up on them. Honestly, they could even need you more than you need them.
Save your money! Have an emergency fund, like separately from your savings. And you don’t have to be putting away a whole lot per paycheck, but enough to where you can see it grow, and use it for emergencies. Also, I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older the importance of spending money on experiences instead of things. I made a budget just for exploring my city! I highly recommend it for those who will be moving somewhere new for work, explore your new home and spend money on things that give you experiences.
Lastly don’t live alone, I know you might want to and you’ll think it’s fine but living by yourself can really put you in isolation which can lead to feelings of depression. We are humans built for relationships, we were not made to be alone, especially not during this crucial time in your life. It’s also just expensive to live alone lol. And someone to eat dinner with? like duh i need that.
Thanks for taking some time to talk with me! You’ve been very helpful.
No problem. Glad I could help! The future is scary, but I know you’ve got this.