What I Would Tell My Younger Self About Being Scared To Graduate From College

Graduating from college can be somewhat terrifying. It’s nice to live in a secure place with a source of funding. However, it shouldn’t be too comfortable. Resting in one place too long is never a good policy.  After going through the college experience twice, I can assure you that getting through once, on time, and getting started on life is the most sensible policy. Here are the major things I would change, given the opportunity to try again.

Focus On The Right Things While In College

While in college, it is not important to commit to memory every concept and every lesson from every class. Do your best, get the grades and then leave specific lessons to be learned when you start working. That is to say, don’t get hung up on stresses of now.

What is important to carry away from college is the ability to focus on basic skills. Care about organization and compartmentalization. Care about how to write and develop good arguments. Anything that involves the process of asking questions and minding details will be your best assets in the future and should alleviate fears, instead providing confidence.

Get A Useful Degree

It’s easy to get a specific degree in a field that you love, but a bachelor’s in underwater digital photography isn’t terribly useful. It could be good for a gig in the Olympics, but will contribute mostly toward giving you a collection of cool things that you won’t have room for in your apartment. Unless you are a smooth talker, it will be hard to turn such a degree into a relevant job offer.

Get a generic degree, like business, something that will offer many different paths and options into a solid occupation. Or, if you really know yourself, look at fields that will always be facing a shortage of quality talent, such as nursing or nurse training and go forth and make your mark. Otherwise, just enjoy the ride and then spend junior and senior year getting the resume ready while doing internships to find your real place and establish networks.

Learn To Start Over Again

Starting life after college is much like the experience of starting college. You will start a new life in a new place and have to grow into it. Things will be weird and slightly uncomfortable. Plans fluctuate and missions change as people figure out the path. It’s not something that can be prepared for, but the ability to adapt to little changes and keeping track of goals is helpful.

Over the first year or two, don’t plan on getting too settled. Move into a small apartment with only essential items. As life unfurls, pull old stuff out of storage or buy into new hobbies. Start simple, finding out exactly what you need. Accumulating stuff is a major roadblock to any type of progress. The path of life should not start out overgrown. Rather, grow into your life and develop habits and accumulate things as you go.

Don’t Go Back To School After Graduation

When life gets boring, or the comforts of college keep calling, it’s easy to run straight back. The addiction of staying in school gives people fancy ideas about additional qualifications they could add to their resume. Consider the time and monetary investment in comparison to what you actually will receive and it’s not usually worth it.

If you do return to school, do it because your employer wants you to and is willing to pay for it. Since college is basically life prep more than career prep, it is not important to go back to school as it would be to transfer into a position to learn different skills on the job.

I have two degrees in specific and relatively useless fields. Going to school costs a lot of money, even more the second time around. It’s so ridiculously expensive that employers may start to offer loan refinancing options as the next part of benefit packages. My time at university was an inefficient use of six years and $100,000.

A good businessman should be able to turn a couple grand to turn huge dividends. A hundred grand investment should turn anyone into a millionaire. Yet, my investment is only making me poorer. People that spend the most time in college are not the most successful or the wealthiest.

Get out of college quick to stop borrowing money and start making money.  

Go To Work Straight Out Of College

Presumably, students are in college to create a good path for themselves. Most of the time that is to get a good job. If that’s the case, don’t take time off to find yourself or to travel. Some people, like me, took the opportunity to travel both before and after college, at a cost. Others wish they had spent their youth traveling while they “had a chance”.  

The chance to travel will always be an option, but still the best time to travel is while in college. It’s important to give refreshers and new experiences while in the midst of studies, as much as it will be in the midst of working life. It’s also important to build connections and interpersonal skills in different environments. Traveling during school years is almost like doing internships.  The experience looks good, but more importantly it comes across in demeanor for those intangible traits that don’t show up on a resume but sell you as a valuable employee anyway.

If you get offered a job straight away, it would be smart to take it. It may make the chances to travel a lot smaller window, but remember to work first, play second. Mostly, when it comes to career, you need the best foot forward. The people most serious about careers are going to get the best ones. Get the job, make the impressions, then reward yourself after you have attained the first couple of goals. First impressions matter – a lot!

While college is fun, simple life with a lot of security, it doesn’t do wonders to stay there forever. None of the world’s most successful people spent a decade in college. Do what you need to and get out of college as soon as possible to start making a name for yourself.

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