Things you don’t know when you graduate.

Graduation season is finally here! Just a few weeks ago, my younger sister and a lot of my friends graduated from high school. Last year, when I graduated, I wrote about the things “You know when you’ve graduated”.

Now that I’ve graduated about a year ago, left home and have done a year of university, I’ve learned a lot of things that most graduates don’t know until they’ve actually started their new adult life. Your parents have most likelycoached you on these things before, but when you hear it from someone already in college, in the same situation as you, it’s easier to relate to.

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Things you don’t know when you graduate

1. You can’t live off fast food.
Yes, this seems very logical to many of you because fast food is unhealthy. However, when you’re living alone, after a long day of classes, the last thing you want to do is stand in your small kitchen and cook. The easiest thing to do is pick up the phone and order a pizza, or go the Kebab shop downstairs.

NO. It’s not just unhealthy, you’re also wasting money. Let’s say you order a medium-sized $10 pizza. With 10 bucks, you could probably buy pasta,tomato sauce, ground beef, juice, and yogurt. That could be your dinner for the next few days whereas your pizza will only satisfy your stomach tonight.

2. You can’t wait until you start school to find a job.
Many college students make this mistake. We tend to wait until we get our timetable before we start looking for a part-time job. But here’s the problem with that: you’re not the only student in your city looking for work. Everyone wants your job. You need to start applying around June/July and at the latest August. Make a résumé (curriculum vitae) NOW.

Apply for a dozen jobs, go to all their interviews, and then when they call you, YOU’ll be able to decide which job you’d like to take.

Most of the time, they’ll allow you to choose your work schedule according to your classes, because they know you’re a student. Just be reasonable and don’t get a job that’ll take too much of your time and energy.

Here are a few pages with great tips for writing your first résumé: College Student, First RésuméFirst Time, 10 Things.

3. Dress like your parents still live with you.
This is mostly for us girls. Yes, you’ll feel like you can wear whatever you want now that your parents don’t live with you anymore, but think about it. Why did your parents set ground rules for what you wore when you walked out of the house ? To protect you, not to be annoying.

When you’re alone, living in a big city, it can be dangerous to dress like you’re looking for attention. Also, if you want people to take you seriously at work and at university, dress the part. People see the difference between teen-adults trying hard and mature young adults. Don’t follow the sad pre-teen generation coming after us. Dress your age and people will treat you like the adult you are.

4. Get into the habit of cleaning.
Again, it’s great not to have your parents on your back, constantly telling you to do the dishes. But what happens when you don’t have a dishwasher? When you don’t have a room mate? When all your dishes are dirty? What are you going to eat out of, empty milk cartons?

GET OFF YOUR LAZY BACKSIDE AND DO IT.

5. Don’t fall into the “you’re-an-adult-now” trap.
You’re in college now, everyone considers you as an adult. Professors don’t care if you do your homework, if you don’t show up to their classes, if you get bad grades. They’re there to teach you, to read their lectures, not to make sure you woke up this morning.

They will constantly say, “You’re an adult, do as you please.” DON’T. Act like you have a lot to lose, because you do. If you slack off at the beginning of the year, you won’t be able to bring your grades up with art projects at the end of the year. Professors are not your highschool teachers. Most of them honestly don’t care. It’s simple: if you work, you pass, if you slack off, you fail.

6. You’ll have time to party.
This is the fun part: you’ll be able to PARTY, for sure. Of course, everyone has different majors, study habits, timetables and goals. But don’t worry about not being able to have fun. If you manage your study hours correctly, you’ll have the weekends off, and a lot of Saturday nights free.

As long as you don’t overdo it and you set your priorities straight, you’ll never feel overwhelmed.

7. Travel!
I am very lucky to be living in France. The best part about it, is that I can travel to neighboring countries (Spain, Holland, England, Italy, Switzerland, Germany…) by train for cheap prices. Make the most of your vacations, and go to next door countries or cities! Get cultural experience, go on road trips, get summer jobs, get internships, get inspired! NOW is the time to travel. Once you graduate from college, you’ll be too busy starting a career to travel the world.

8. College is not like ‘American Pie‘.
Guys, the first blond girl you meet will not be your party girl. Don’t be one of those dorks who think that treating girls badly makes them attractive. Women don’t find mean jocks cute anymore. College women don’t want to hang out with highschool boys and their rude fantasies. They want grown-up gentlemen.

Ladies, even though highschool is different from college, it’s still similar. Rumors still spread, couples still cheat, some girls are still mean, some boys are still pigs. You’re most likely not going to find the love of your life on the first try.

Studies show that one-third of long-term couples meet in places where no other couples have met, not in college like chick flicks.

9. You won’t get perfect grades.
The first semester is always the hardest. That’s why your parents are nagging you about reading, studying and learning before you start your classes. You’re not used to this new environment, you’ll still be adjusting by the end of the year. You will get a bad grade, you’ll probably get many. Then you’ll pick yourself up, study harder and start again.

Don’t be a 6th grader and cry because you got a C- in Math.

10. Your money is NOT unlimited.
This is probably the most IMPORTANT one on the list. Make sure you learn how to budget your money properly before you start living on your own. Ask your parents to help you make a list of all the expenses you will most likely have per month. If you know how to use programs like Excel, this will make your life much easier.

Keep ALL receipts, spend wisely, buy the things you need, save your money for the things you want. Always set aside a small amount of money for emergencies. Never leave your bank account in negative or at zero. Make sure you put away the money you earn in a savings account for future projects, trips and big expenses. Also, collect all the coins you have. Extra change always comes in handy. Especially when you’re poor and you have no milk in the fridge. Those quarters you threw in your bag will definitely be useful.
College life is easy when you’re organized and well prepared. It’s a great new experience and your adult life has just begun. In a few years, you’ll look back at these years and remember the best memories of your life.

MAKE THE MOST OF IT !

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Do you have additional advice to give to future or present college students? Post a comment below !

2 thoughts on “Things you don’t know when you graduate.

  1. Wow, Zahra! That makes me want to go back to those college days and do it all over again, especially as the traveling part wasn’t so cheap back then!

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