Career, College

The College Hangover

June 17, 2009

As the alarm buzzes so begins the debate. The debate whether or not getting up and getting ready for class is really worth it. As you weigh your options you debate over the following: (a) You can skip class and get the notes from someone else or (b) go because your class grade depends on it. While the responsible choice is to go to class, not everyone is responsible.

For many recent college graduates, it appears that nothing has changed. You still want to sleep in and you don’t want to get up yet. The big difference is that if you decide to sleep in and ‘skip’ class you can’t just make up what you missed by getting the notes from a fellow classmate. Instead you are missing out on your future. While it is easy for many of us to just hit the snooze button, and sleep for what seems like an amazing 5 minutes, too often do recent college graduates carry over this mentality into life after college.

It what can be described as a sort of college hangover, what many fail to realize is that time waits for no one, and the sooner you can ‘sober’ up, the better. Reminiscing about all the good times you had during college is great, but it is even more important to look toward the future.

The “Real World”

College teaches you how to derive answers from complicated formulas, how to write a research paper, and how to cram before a test. The problem is, that the ‘real world’ is so different from life during college that it’s almost like a cultural shock when someone graduates from college. One of the biggest changes that recent college graduates face is having to make ‘grown-up’ decisions. From deciding what type of health insurance you need to figuring out the difference between a 401K and a Roth IRA, these sort of decisions are just the start. While many of us would love to have a ‘trial period’ similar to a membership at a club, their is no such thing.

In order to be prepared for what’s ahead it is important to start early. By early, I mean looking for a job when you are still in school. Once you leave school, things become twice as hard. You don’t have counselors and career centers to help you, you only have yourself. If you still don’t know what you want to do by the time you leave school that doesn’t mean you should take a vacation. There will be plenty of time for that later. Instead, find an internship or take extra classes that may interest you. Just because you don’t have a job doesn’t mean you can’t build toward your future.

Want Versus Need

You want a job that pays you $70,000 a year + benefits, but you need experience. You want to start off as a manager, but you need management skills. These sorts of conflicts are the kinds that keep recent college graduates in a ‘hangover.’ Being realistic is just as important as being optimistic. Especially in the tough economic times that we are in, being able to understand your wants versus your needs is important. College graduates need to understand that although they may have the skills, the jobs may just not be out there. With students graduating faster than new job openings, it’s simple math. With that said, it is to a graduates advantage to play the numbers game as well and apply to as many jobs as possible.

The person that wants to make 6 figures a year needs to realize that his needs may be different. Waiting around for that 6 figure job to come his way may cause him to miss out on other opportunities. Not only will he be missing out, but that 6 figure job may never even happen.

3 Keys To “Sobriety”

1. Plan Ahead

The best way to prevent the college “hangover” is to try and prevent it all together. By planning ahead and having an idea of what you want to do once you graduate is the best approach. Begin by attending career fairs and trying to find some internships for over the summer.

2. Understand The Value Of Time

There are 168 hours in a week. If you sleep for 6 hours a day that still leaves you 126 hours. Being able to manage your time and maximize the amount of work you do, will help to keep you focused and productive.

3. Understand Your Situation

After all the graduation parties are over and the last bits of confetti are picked up off the floor this is where you need to be able to grasp the whole situation.  Out of the three this could be the most important because even though you follow 1 and 2, if you don’t understand why you are doing it and what your situation is, you are essentially just going through the motions without any meaning to it.

Always remember,

Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. — Ferris Bueller


Photo by Big Garlic Bullet

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  • Reply ashley June 18, 2009 at 11:49 am

    great post! I completely agree with you on the whole college hangover thing. It really is easy to get lazy after you graduate and get in a slump. It’s harder than ever before to find a job, so recent graduates have to be on the top of their game more than ever. I especially like the part on “want vs need.” it’s easy to compare yourself to others and think “well if Jo’s making 60k a year, I should too!” The first job out of college, is about gaining experience and the necessary skills to eventually land that 60k job down the road.

  • Reply stuys June 18, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    good post, guys. thumbs up. with that said, i miss college 🙁

  • Reply Tolu June 21, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Great article! Prevention is always better than cure in my honest opinion, so i definitely agree with your views on getting started early. Post college is not as easy as it seems when you are still on campus strutting your stuff, so I advice while you’re still in college…get ‘things’ done. set your future right.

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