10 Truths About Post-College Life

You made it! Now the real fun begins...

College graduation can be simultaneously one of the best and worst days of your life. Finally, your family and friends get to see the grand finale of your four years (or possibly more) of hard work.

However, this may be the last time you see some of those friends for a while, and you have to leave the place you called home for the past several years, to move on to a new, possibly unknown, life. 

College graduation may not be the total picnic you are expecting, so here are some truths we are going to let you in on, so you aren’t shocked when going out into the world. 

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You will never be around this many people the same age as you again.

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Unless you are moving on to graduate or professional school, you are now sitting at the grown-ups table. This will show when trying to date or make friends or reference the latest MTV Movie Awards with your coworkers (unless you are working at MTV).

Be yourself, but also remember there’s a whole wide world out there, and embrace this new diversity.

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Your dating and friend pool will never be this full again.

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Reference #1 above. It’s easy to meet people in college. People in the same 4-5 year age range with similar interests are available at every class, sporting event, party (oh, do we miss those house parties), dining hall, library, gym, dorm, etc.

Meeting people in real life is a little trickier. People have schedules and responsibilities and expectations. You may actually have to dress up for a date, and spend money, rather than watching Netflix on the common room sofa. 

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You need to learn to cook.

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You could order pizza or Chinese or Indian food every night, but you’d be probably fat and broke. Buying groceries and making larger meals is actually healthier and more economical in the long run.

As much as you complained about the dining hall, you will be missing the convenience in no time.

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Money is great, but taxes are not.

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“I’m getting paid HOW MUCH a year? I’m rich!”

-Gets first paycheck-

“Hey, wait, where did all my money go?”

You may have encountered some of this working part time in high school or college, but now you are making the “big bucks.” And with the big bucks comes big paybacks to Uncle Sam.

Also add in any insurance, pre-tax commuter fees, HSA, retirement investments, and you can count up to a possible 30 percent deduction from your paycheck. 

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And that brings us to…budgeting.

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You may be tempted to take that first check and treat yo’ self on a pair of expensive shoes or blow it all at happy hour. However, once the money is gone, it’s gone. There’s no more mommy and daddy refilling your campus cash card.

There are rent bills and utility bills and, if you are lucky enough, cable bills to pay. You can learn to budget by drawing out your own plan, and sticking to it. 

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Health insurance costs money?

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Yes, it actually costs money for doctor’s visits, and if you don’t have insurance, you will be shoveling out a LOT of dough. In the United States, children can stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, if the family wishes.

Your company should have a health insurance plan, but if not, the Affordable Care Act plans are a good option. Remember, you will receive a penalty from the federal government for not having ANY insurance. 

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Life insurance is also important.

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Most employers DO offer a life insurance plan. You may think, I’m only 21 or 22, I’m not dying any time soon! Why does this even matter? Unfortunately, you never know what CAN happen, and if you pass away, your next of kin are going to be stuck with the balance of any debts (see student loans) you may have.

If you don’t have employer-backed insurance, look into any life insurance company on your own. Policies do not usually cost much, and could save your family a lot of stress down the line.

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Get proper sleep.

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Sorry pal, those mid-afternoon naps may be a think of the past. Staying up until 3 a.m. and rolling out of bed to a 12 p.m. class? Sorry, those days are over.

More than likely you will be on the 9-to-5 clock like the rest of the world. It’s important to establish good sleep patterns (usually 8 hours a night), so you can get up on time and keep your job. 

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Moving back home will be weird.

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You may have to move back in with the parents when those student loan payments start rolling in, especially on an entry-level salary. This could be your saving grace or your worst nightmare.

After living away or on your own for four years, it can be difficult to answer to someone else’s rules. This will all go smoother if you act like an adult.

Ask your parents to sit down with you and go over ground rules. Do you own laundry and buy your own groceries. Show your parents you are not the surly teenager that left their place four years ago.

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Save that graduation money for an emergency fund.

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If you are fortunate enough to have a graduation party, or just really generous family members and friends, you will more than likely acquire a large amount of cash after your graduation.

This is one of the first times (besides high school graduation), that you have the ability to start building a real nest egg for yourself. Do not waste this opportunity.

Whether your plans include moving to a new city, or purchasing a new car to get to and from work, make sure you first establish an emergency fund for any unexpected roadblocks that may come your way.

Because you may need more help: Check out "Money in Your 20s"

Honestly, it’s not all bad. Now is the time to embrace your freedom and go wherever you want. You have an education, and a clean slate. Go forth!