It’s that time of the year again… spring semester is in full swing, and college seniors everywhere are having countless drunken conversations about the great abyss of post grad life. Confusion, nostalgia, and tears litter campus greens across the nation. Senior year is like the series finale of a beloved sitcom: all the loose ends are tied up, characters are saying tearful goodbyes as they move off in different directions, there are flashback montages of all the good times, the character development over the course of the series is apparent, and everything feels strikingly final. While you know there will always be reruns to watch, it will never be the same as the excitement of a new episode. Embrace this finale, this final chapter of life as you know it. Hold your friends close before everyone scatters, soak up all the knowledge and experiences available to you, overuse the excuse “I’m in college” while you can, figure out what will make you happy after graduation and work toward it.
If you’re anything like I was at this time last year, you’re looking for some guidance; you’re looking for someone to tell you what comes next or how you’re going to manage the transition from college to “real life”. I asked fellow real adults (well…recent graduates) one piece of advice they would give to college seniors. As you drink that Natty Light and stress about your future, reflect on these pieces of wisdom and know that we all survived, and you will too.
“The end of senior year is one of the most confusing times. You’re having a blast with all of your friends and you’re so excited to finally be finishing school. At the same time you’re frantically trying to figure out what you want to do next. It’s scary! The best advice I can give you is to do exactly what you want, follow your own dreams. Don’t move to the big city because your friends all are. Don’t go to grad school just because that’s what your parents want. Do exactly what you want to do and you will be happy.” -Mary, ’13
“My advice is to get on looking for a job as soon as you can so you can graduate with peace of mind. I found mine in March and signed a contract. Some places will hire you before you complete your bachelors.” -Emily, ’13
“Think carefully before jumping into relationships, maybe dating that guy on the other side of the country isn’t such a good idea, or that bad boy you know your family will hate. Yes you’ll learn important lessons, but come on, you know better.” -Katie, ’13
“In the craziness of senior year- partying, cramming in work for classes, and trying to figure out what next year will look like- make sure you take at least one solid moment to really step back from the room filled with the laughter and love of your friends and roommates, to realize how beautiful and special life is at this moment, where you have little responsibility and all the time in the world to sit around and just talk and laugh and love. Please take this moment to really appreciate and be grateful for the life that you are living. Although next year will be different, beyond what you can imagine at this time, keep this moment with you always, as a light to carry you through all your post-grad years.” -Anna, ’13
“If you’re in a bind, and you need to produce mead really quickly and easily, stir honey in your beer, and put it in the microwave.” -Matt, ’13
“Do not give up on finding a job. The market is getting better, so I would recommend looking at large cities for jobs and be open minded to relocating. Second, never accept a job based on higher pay. You want to be happy with the people you meet in the interview. You will have to work with these employees and managers 5 days a week.” -Brendan, ’12
“Live in a crappy apartment at least once, it builds character.” -Katherine, ’13
“The best advice I can give is to keep busy. The job market is tough. Employers would be more likely to hire when the applicant has been constantly working. Any large gaps of time due to unemployment or any other insignificant reasons could hurt your chances on being hired. If you can’t find a job, volunteer work is a great way to use some time. It shows motivation and dedication. I had gone to school for a bachelor’s degree in forensic science. When I graduated, I worked retail at a Yankee Candle retail store and had a temporary position filling yogurt cups. Now, I am a lab technician at a chemistry laboratory. Don’t be sucked into the mindset that you just graduated and deserve some time off. You have definitely earned the time to relax, but also spend time doing things that are worthwhile and will benefit you in the future.” -Reggie, ’13
“Never graduate.” -Colin, ’13
“The best advice I’ve ever gotten was to “Say yes to everything!” In other words, if someone asks you to stay up to see the sunrise- DO IT. Maybe over the past 3 years you didn’t go to all those events on campus or you didn’t write for the school newspaper– it’s not too late! My roommate and I made a last semester bucket list and it was the best thing we ever did.” -Kelly, ’13
“Your major wasn’t as important a decision as you might have thought: For some people, it comes to them like advice from God. They know what they want to study as a fetus. These people are usually the subject of eye-rolls from their junior year friends who still have no idea what they want to do.
As it turns out, it doesn’t really matter. Of my closest friends, I’d say about half went into the career field they majored in, and half didn’t. And of those, I’d say it’s also a pretty even split as to how happy the people in each of those groups are….
In conclusion, don’t feel like your track is set because of what you studied in college. If you love what you studied in college, by all means go for it. If you still feel the need to experience more things, don’t be afraid of [taking] that left turn.” -Bryan, ’12
“Do whatever the hell it is you want to do- fuck what anyone else tells you. Drink, take drugs, get immersed in academia, have as much sex as possible, spend time with friends, experience the area- take a hike, get a pastry, visit a tourist attraction- you will want to do all of this once you’ve left.
Disclaimer- it also is nice to have a job / plan for post graduation.”
“Pick a primary industry or field you would like to be a part of for your career. A lot of the same jobs exist in different businesses. Find the kind of businesses or industry you are interested in and pursue that along with your job. Having a larger general field of interest can help you find more opportunities and it’s a way to find work you may be more personally invested in and care about. For example, if you want to be an accountant, they’re needed just about everywhere, but maybe you’d like to try and work with local sports, nonprofits, or restaurants. Stack that particular interest on top of your skills to help build a career that integrates your skills and interests into something you really care about and you’ll be much happier.” -Brian, ’11
“By senior year small glimpses of real life start to seep through the cracks of your protected college life. Those cracks become big holes by second semester. It is terrifying. You will try to fight it, but resist the urge to fight it. Instead, envision you and your friends as successful young people and throw real life into your everyday conversations. That’s how you’ll know you don’t just have superficial partying friends, and that you can make it as an adult. Being in your early 20’s is actually extremely enjoyable if you just choose to enjoy it.” -Jillian, ’13
And most importantly:
“Don’t freak out.” -Andrew, ’13
These next few months will undoubtedly be the most hectic and stressful months of your life so far, but enjoy every crazy second. Come graduation day, all that’s left are the reruns.
(cue that schmoopy Vitamin C song)
*originally published on Thought Catalog