Getting to graduation is so exciting, but somehow the celebration prevents you from seeing all of your future post-graduate struggles clearly. You never wanted to have these problems, and you never thought you would, but now here you are. These are the ten most common post-graduate struggles, and a little bit of advice for how to get through. You can do it.
You knew that you would have to apply for jobs after college, but you never pictured it being this hard. There are a few majors that find work right away, but applying to jobs everyday is exhausting no matter how long you do it for. Maybe you started while you were a senior and you’re still looking. Maybe you started the summer after graduation and you regret not starting earlier. On every timeline, trying to start your career might feel like inventing the first airplane. You might keep asking yourself, how do you get it off the ground? Still, the airplane was invented, and with a little perseverance and a little persistence, your career will be, too.
If you haven’t found work yet, or if you have work that’s close enough to commute from your parents’ house, you might find yourself back in your childhood bedroom after being off on your great college adventure for a few years. Though it might feel good or even safe to be back for a while, you might start to feel a little suffocated by all the love and micromanaging. Maybe you don’t want to run your home the same way as your parents, or your schedules are totally incompatible. As an adult, it just feels super weird to be back again and your vibe is seriously wrecked.
Although it can be tough living with the folks again, there are some upsides, depending on your situation. You might not have to cook again for a while, you might pay little to no rent, and you definitely won’t have to pay to print or do laundry. Whatever the upside of this post-graduate struggle, try to focus on that instead of your loss of independence. You can move out again someday.
They say that the bigger the city, the more jobs there are. Unfortunately, the bigger the city, the more challenging and the more expensive to get housing as well. Even in smaller towns, you can have major struggles trying to find a landlord who will take a chance on you, and when they do you find out that literally everything is wrong with the apartment. If you have money to burn, excellent credit, or if your parents will sign as a guarantor, this might not seem so hard, but if you have massive debt, a job that doesn’t pay you enough, okay credit, or if your parents won’t or can’t sign for you, this probably feels impossible.
Don’t sweat it though, your post-graduate struggles are meant to happen in somewhat or even massively crappy apartments. This is the time you get to collect all those stories about ‘when I was your age.’ A good way to ease this struggle is to find roommates. You can find roommates on craigslist or through Facebook groups (Safely! Meet in public!), through friends, and through your school. It might not be your dream life, but living with people can feel like having your own young, hip family, and at the very least, you can learn more about yourself.
Whether you moved to a new city of moved back home, all the friends you had have somehow disappeared. It feels like freshman year all over again! Except now you can occasionally text or video call the friends you remember having. This post-graduate struggle is a major bummer, especially because you’re going through such a big transition right now. It would be so nice to be able to talk to your friends about it, get a drink or a coffee together, play a game, or sit on each other’s beds and watch a movie like old times.
Although it can be hard to be away from your college friends, you might be able to reconnect with some old high school friends, or meet someone new in your area. Sure, it feels like freshman year all over again, but remember that freshman year was when you started meeting (or weeding out) all your college friends. Without this post-graduate struggle, you wouldn’t have the time or the space to start making new friends.
Woah, all your friends are gone, you don’t have your dream career, and you’re living with your parents. You thought that graduating was your biggest struggle, but now it feels like you have nothing to do and nowhere to go. You’ve been applying to jobs like a maniac for what seems like your entire life. By now, you think you should have found something, if you were worth anything anyway. Why didn’t you major in something better? Why does it seem so easy for those other people you see succeeding from afar?
Of all the post-graduate struggles, this one is the hardest. You could be feeling down for any number of reasons on this list, or your own, and it might go on for a while. Starting your adult life, getting on the right career path, and building a community from scratch will test your faith in yourself, but try to remember that this phase of life will pass. Eventually, you will be on the right path, and the turnaround will take you by surprise. Test your patience; this is a perfect time for significant self-awareness and growth.
College degrees don’t necessarily equal higher paying positions. You are a more competitive candidate with a degree, but for really lucrative positions you probably need to go back to school, or work for a long time. Again, there are some people and some majors who bypass this post-graduate struggle altogether, but for many, minimum wage positions are a go-to after graduation. There are a lot of well-educated servers, sales associates, and bartenders out there. I see you all.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a minimum wage job, except if your employer doesn’t treat you with respect. The world as we know it would not exist without minimum wage service roles. Whether it’s temporary while you do unpaid internships, or long-term while you work on projects in your own time, work is work and you should never feel bad about that.
Some relatives are more judgemental than others, but overall, it seems that the general understanding is that a college degree should get you a ‘professional career’ right away. However, this doesn’t take into consideration the fact that there are more people in the world nowadays, and that a larger percentage of people are getting a college education, which makes the job market even more competitive.
Don’t get discouraged, and don’t listen to the relatives who tell you it was easy for them. This is one of the post-graduate struggles that’s all about mind over matter. There is nothing wrong with a minimum wage job, and it is classist to think there is. Keep your head held high.
Sometimes grad school is in your plans, and sometimes you just feel such existential dread that you decide to try it. Sometimes you realize that the career you want requires more schooling. For some reason, you’ve decided to apply to grad school, which means you’ll have to do the whole college application process all over again. The best part it, it’ll cost you a bunch more money and you will go further into debt.
It’s okay to be worried, but just remember that if you really do need grad school to move past your post-graduate struggles and on to your dream career, it will be worth it. No one wants to choose being in debt, but with higher education will come higher paychecks, and eventually you will pay off those loans. Slow and steady towards those dreams.
That’s right, even if you don’t go to grad school you might find yourself with the most tangible of the post-graduate struggles: student loans. A great reason for the desperation of the post-graduate job search is that there is so much debt and the time is ticking on those payments. There is nothing fun about giving all your money away as soon as you’ve earned it. It is what it is.
This one just takes time, and budgeting. Whether or not you’ve gotten a well-paying job or you’re barely scraping by, you’ll have to limit what you buy and spend on for a while to pay back that great education you got. It sucks, but if you’re smart with your money I promise that you’ll pay it all back and be able to move forward.
Perhaps you aren’t feeling as young as you once were, and now you have to fuel up for work so you can make it through your days. Perhaps you’ve just decided it’s time to start eating like an adult, so you can impress your adult dates.
Yes, it’ll take a little time, but cooking isn’t so hard once you learn the basics. Keep your fingers in when you’re cutting, buy a few spices, and remember to always keep onions in the house. Time to invest in some cookbooks and binge a few cooking shows!
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