Are You Prepared to Graduate College? Here Are Some Things You Probably Haven’t Considered
Life after college isn’t always easy. In fact, transitioning and change in general isn’t easy. Although graduating college is a huge success, the months after attaining your degree can feel pointless, confusing, and overwhelming.
In order to get a handle on the stress of life after college, here are some things to consider in order to be as prepared as possible.
The idea of student loans is most likely in the back of your head. You’re probably aware that your education wasn’t free and that you owe thousands of dollars to the government or other private loan companies.
With graduation on the horizon, it’s time to put the idea of student loans first and for most.
You might be thinking that since you don’t get your student loan bill for 6 months after graduation, you have plenty of time.
Did you know that you’re being charged interest every single day? Just because you get your loan in 6 months doesn’t mean you aren’t being charged. In fact, when I got my bill in the mail exactly 6 months after I graduated, I had already accumulated over $1,000 of interest.
I wish I would have been aware of that so I could have started my payments sooner and saved money down the line. That’s why it’s crucial to start researching and putting together a game plan for how to tackle your loans.
Here are some important aspects to consider regarding your student loans:
Many financial advisors and school counselors will urge you to consolidate your loans. You’ll see lots of advertisements for companies who specialize in loan consolidation. Here’s my personal opinion on consolidation. Don’t. Do. It.
The only reason I was able to pay off my debt in 2 years was because I focused on my individual loans and paid them off. I started with the loans that had the highest interest rate and finished with loans that had the lowest.
By consolidating loan debt, your interest becomes one. That means your monthly payments go to your interest first and if there is money left over, then it goes to the principle. This is why it takes people 10 years to pay off loans.
By leaving loans as individuals, like I did for my 7 loans, I was able to pay down one loan at a time while still making my monthly minimum payment. Keep an eye out for a future blog post all on my process of paying down my debt. Also, hopefully the words interest and principle aren’t new to you, but if they are, it’s time to start your research now!
Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized Loans
Did you know that if you have a subsidized loan, you don’t start paying interest until you get your bill? That makes subsidized loans great to have because of that aspect.
On the other hand, unsubsidized loans charge you interest from the moment you take it out. That means if you took your unsubsidized loan out freshman year, you have been charged interest every single day and will continue to be charged interest until you pay that loan off in full.
I’m sure you know what interest rates are so I won’t get into details on that here. What you may not know is that you have a different interest rate per loan you take out.
My loan interest rates varied from 3.4% to over 10%. Since I decided to not consolidate and just pay off my individual loans (while still paying my monthly dues), I saved up to pay off the loan with the highest interest rate first.
Once I had enough money to pay off that loan, I began my saving process all over again by paying off the loan with the next highest interest rate. Each time I paid off a loan, my monthly payment decreased and so did the interest. This was better on my savings and helped me not have to spend so much on my monthly payment, which began at almost $500 a month.
If you cannot find a job within the 6 months or you choose to continue on with your education, you qualify for loan deferment. This means that you will not have to start paying on your loans until you either get a job or you’re done with school.
If you do qualify for a deferment, don’t put your student loans back out of sight, out of mind. Save for them so that you can pay them off as soon as possible and live a debt free life.
I am very passionate about student loan debt and I have been asked by numerous people on my process and success of paying off my $30,000 in two years. Keep an eye out for more blog posts dedicated to loan repayment.
Post Graduation Blues
Although graduating college is an amazing achievement, it’s also the end of an era. It’s typical to graduate college and then feel entirely lost.
Although people will tell you that it’s okay to not have everything figured out, it’s a terrible feeling to not know the next steps in your life. Even worse, just because you are now equipped with a degree doesn’t necessarily mean a job is waiting for you.
On top of all this, the government will remind you every month just how much your tuition costs you, which can sometimes feel like a slap in the face.
When I graduated college and entered into my post-grad blues, it was actually my boss who told me I was getting depressed. I hadn’t realized how much of a toll my uncertainty took on my life until other people pointed it out to me.
I began to wish that I had used my senior year wiser so that I could be better prepared for post-grad life. I suggest that you use your last year in college wisely and figure out exactly what you want to do after graduation.
It also doesn’t hurt to have a backup plan.
In order to prepare for life as a post-grad and to avoid the blues, get a head start on your resume. In order to apply for a job, you’ll obviously need a resume. Take the time to get a solid resume put together while you’re still in school.
This saves you time and helps you be prepared to give your resume out on short notice. While you’re at it, go ahead and ask a few of your best professors to write you a letter of recommendation. Letters of rec go hand in hand with resumes.
Basically, what you don’t want to do is to wait until the last minute to create your resume because you run the risk of handing in a half done and unimpressive resume.
Hopefully, you can apply for jobs within your field, but, if you find you need to apply for other types of jobs it’s crucial to tweak your resume beforehand. As someone who sees many resumes come through my job, nothing looks worse than a resume where the intro statement or job history doesn’t fit the position they are applying for.
To learn how to make a professional resume, click here.
Most likely, your first job out of college won’t be your last. Studies also show that only approximately 27% of college grads work in a job related to their field.
That’s a depressing percentage that can also make job hunting exhausting.
I suggest spending some time applying for jobs in your field and then expanding out. You can only search for a job for so long in your field before you have to accept an unrelated job. But, let’s hope you have great luck and are able to find the job you want right away!
Bye, Bye Bubble
This new chapter of life after college will burst your comfort zone bubble. Being in a university is very exclusive meaning you spend 4 (or 5) years of seemingly taking a break from the world in order to focus on educational goals.
After the security blanket bubble of college is burst, it’s time to enter the ‘real world’ which is extremely opposite. In the real world, there is no cafeteria with pre-paid meals, campus doctors, free social events, professors who mentor you, or dorms to live in.
It can all seem overwhelming to give that up in exchange for bills and a full-time job that may not even be in your field of study.
My point is, be prepared for this change. I know that I wasn’t prepared and it led to my post-grad blues. If someone would have warned me that it would feel like I was losing everything in the span of graduation weekend, I would have prepared myself more for that transition.
Having a bachelors degree will only earn you so much money. It’s no secret that people with a master’s degree tend to earn more money than people with bachelor’s degree. Once you get your first job out of college, you may be surprised with your starting salary.
Chances are, it’s going to be lower than you expected. While you can ask for a raise in the proper timing, if you had a master’s degree, you would most likely qualify for a higher salary rate simply based on your education.
If you haven’t considered continuing on with college after graduating you may want to think about the financial benefits of getting a master’s degree. Having a master’s degree will also give you an edge in the job market.
If you feel burnt out with school and need some time off, take a year or two before you start your master’s. You’ll come back to school feeling refreshed and ready to learn.
Being in college has many perks. One of them is that some colleges offer Health Insurance and campus doctors for students. The moment you graduate, all that goes away.
Even worse, if you don’t have health insurance, the IRS will fine you, big time. Unfortunately, that happened to my boyfriend after he graduated. He went about 6 or 7 months without health insurance after graduation and got fined almost $700 when tax season came around.
This amount is huge, especially when you’re already paying down student loan debt.
Avoid getting fined by keeping an eye out for health insurance now. If your parents have health insurance through their jobs, you can get on theirs until you turn 26. If not, find an open enrollment in your state and apply. However, keep in mind that enrollment for health insurance is not typically year-round in America.
Just like in high school, friendships after college will fizzle. This is completely normal, especially in a society where we can watch someone’s life on Instagram or Facebook.
The unfortunate thing about friendships ending after college is that it gets harder and harder to make friends. Since life after college tends to be routine with going to work full-time, aside from co-workers and a few scattered friends, it’s hard to meet new people.
Decide now that you will be intentional about keeping in touch with the friends that mean the most to you. Although people move and go in different directions with their life, friendships can work if there is an effort on both ends.
After graduating from college, you would have achieved something many people don’t. Graduating college is a huge success that should be celebrated and cherished. Not only did you finish, you also proved to yourself that you have the dedication and motivation to complete what you started.
With that being said, I urge you to use your education and skills to start a side hustle. This could be any form of business that has the potential to make you extra money. It took me 4 years to start my side hustles after graduating college and I wish I would have started way sooner.
It takes time for a business to grow, so you’ll want to start asap to give yourself plenty of time. If you think that you can’t start a business on the side just remember, you’re a college grad!
To learn how to make time for a side hustle, click here.
There you have it, a list of things I wish I had known when I graduated college. I hope that you are able to get yourself prepared for life after graduation and have a successful and profitable transition. Best of luck on your journey!