Going to college can be an incredibly meaningful and important life experience. College is a time to start discovering who you are and what you want, and it's often where you meet the people you're going to be friends with for the rest of your life. Yes, it's all true — but it's also all kind of a lie.
See, when you’re in college, you're an adult with no real responsibilities, which is pretty much the greatest thing ever. For most students, it may seem like the hefty post-graduate loan payment is the sole burden that the college experience heaps onto their young, unassuming shoulders (and it’s super far away, so who cares!). But as it turns out, the lifestyle that college allows students to grow accustomed to makes for a somewhat turbulent transition into the "real world” (whatever that even means).
Logically, you know that post-grad life will not allow for an unlimited meal plan or the ability to see all of your friends at a moment's notice. But when you graduate, the reality of the situation hits you like a ton of adult bricks — and the adjustment can be more than a little disorienting.
Here are 9 harshest lessons you learn after college — the hard way.
1. Most Food Isn't Free
The days of shoving extra bagels in your backpack when the dining hall employees aren’t looking are over. If you try to pocket a Cliff bar at your local bodega, you will likely be cursed out by the proprietor and could possibly have to explain your actions to a police officer. Despite the cheesy proclamations of your school's promotional literature, the world is not in fact yours for the taking. You have to pay for stuff.
2. You'll See A Lot Less of Your Friends
Even if your group of friends has the luxury of all living somewhat near each other after college, it grows increasingly more difficult to get together after school ends. It’s not as easy as inviting yourself over to your friends’ townhouse for a movie night and crashing on their futon because you both have to get up for the same philosophy class in the "morning". Your lives just aren’t intertwined anymore the way they were at school, and often, you actually have to book hangouts in advance. Not going to lie — it sucks.
3. No One Cares That You Can Bullshit Through A Paper
Any college student knows all the age-old tactics to make a paper seem longer; skills that prove completely and utterly useless when interacting with humans in any setting other than a college campus. Learning how to fluff an argument with nonsense and increase the font size of punctuation marks is not doing anyone any favors. Bullshitting verbally certainly continues to be a useful skill, but there are no extensions in the real world.
4. Your Grades Really Don't Matter
I’m not saying you should slack off in college — you’re there to learn, and you should be soaking up as much knowledge as you can. But students focus too much on their GPA when they need to be looking at the bigger picture. Are you doing your best? Are you taking opportunities to grow and learn? Are you interested in what you’re studying? If you answer yes to these questions, you can consider yourself a successful college student.
5. ... And Neither Does Your Major
Choosing a major feels like the biggest decision of your life when you’re in college. But your major doesn’t pigeonhole you when it comes to job opportunities — far from it. Most people end up in a field that is totally different from what they studied in school. So try to just study something you enjoy, because really, no one cares. Not even most grad schools.
6. A College Degree Does Not Guarantee You A Job
Surprise! Having a bachelor’s degree is practically meaningless in today’s job market. Yes, education is important, but if you don’t know how to use Microsoft Office, write a resume and cover letter, or network yourself, that diploma won’t do you any good. Your degree does not entitle you to a job — but luckily, it should help you get one.
7. Going To Sleep At 3 a.m Every Night Isn't Sustainable
The college routine of staying up all night, rolling out of bed, taking a couple classes and napping intermittently is a wildly unrealistic schedule to get accustomed to. Once you graduate, your body will be highly confused when you force it to go to sleep by 10 p.m. so that you can get up for work (you know, the thing college is supposed to be “preparing” you for). Soon, you will be unable to stay awake past midnight and wonder how your college self ever had so much energy.
8. Microwaving Popcorn Does Not Count As Cooking
College put a serious damper on any culinary skills I was hoping to develop. I mean, who needs to cook when you have a dining hall 10 steps away from your dorm room and a Chipotle around the corner? But as it turns out, knowing how to scramble an egg or make slice-and-bake cookies are not impressive to anyone outside of a college campus. (That said, popcorn can still totally pass for dinner.)
9. Most People Aren't Rooting For You
It’s easy to feel like there’s nothing you can’t achieve when you’re in college. You’re surrounded by teachers and classmates who support and inspire you, and there are a million resources at your fingertips. But outside of college, your future isn’t just something you discuss with your advisor in your mid-semester meeting. It’s happening now, and the path to reaching your goals might be a little more complicated than you thought.
But you know what? That's OK. Bubbles are meant to be popped.
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