GUEST POST: Going from College Life to Real Life

12 06 2012

This guest post is contributed by Barbara Jolie, a freelance writer and full time blogger. You can reach her at barbara.jolie876 @ gmail.com

The adaptation required of a college graduate goes beyond the transition from academic work to career success. There are major social factors as well. Here are some things to consider:

The transition is slow. Chances are you will primarily associate with your college friends for the next few years, unless you move very far away (and even then, at this stage life has a way of pulling you back to where you started).

Nonetheless, things will not remain the same. Cultivate a kind of detachment about this, and expect that your social scene will evolve slowly over time, until you hardly recognize it. People change and move and get married, and your friends will not be immune to this tendency.

Don’t be offended or hurt when people drift out of your life for all practical purposes. This is normal. Give your old buddies the space to grow.

Use social media to keep up, but make sure you maintain a level of easygoing social activity in real life. Never stop making new friends. That said, Facebook is truly a marvelous tool for maintaining those older friendships. As the song says, “Make new friends and keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”

Don’t expect your work relationships to operate in the same way as your friendships from school. If you’re lucky, you truly will make some valuable friends out of your co-workers, but don’t be surprised if this remains on a more casual level. Don’t be too shy at work either though; these are, after all, the people you’ll be seeing every day for the foreseeable future, and possibly for a long time. (I would say “the rest of your life,” but who in our generation ever expects to hold the same job for so long?

As the years pass, you may find it necessary to drop many habits you’ll have retained from college. One important example is drinking: many people continue to drink the way they did in college, into their 30s and beyond. This is also known as alcoholism. Consider slowing down. At some point, your body will make it clear to you that you must anyway. Don’t wait until then to pursue a more mature and healthy lifestyle.

As another example, you’ve probably become used to (often cheap and unhealthy) food that someone else cooks. Learning to keep your apartment well-stocked with groceries, and learning to budget and cook will take time. Keep up an exercise regimen if you have one, and if not, adopt one.

Take it slow when it comes to romantic relationships. There will be a natural tendency to panic as college recedes in the rearview mirror and meeting people to date seems more and more rare, difficult, and awkward. Don’t put pressure on yourself to meet a life partner. Let it happen. Have fun.

Barbara enjoys sharing her knowledge on accredited online college classes and online education with her blogging community.

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