1. Savor it, even if you can’t wait to get out.
Real talk: Never having to write another paper unless you want to is just as incredible as you think it is. But — even if college is a drag, come a year post-graduation, you may very well find yourself feeling nostalgic for your campus, your best friends, maybe even your tiny dorm room because the human brain is weird like that. It’s a bizarre and special time in your life, and even if you’re confused and overwhelmed as hell, just be present for all of it.
2. Go to events you normally wouldn’t go to.
You’ll get invites for senior formals, boat cruises, etc., and your first instinct may be to roll your eyes. But it’s also only one night out of all the nights in your life where you could otherwise be eating pizza in your bed (no judgment — it’s the best). Just go, and if you absolutely hate it, well, now you’ll know. Actually having an amazing and new experience with your friends is worth the risk.
3. But also prioritize your thesis over friends.
You know the drill: The friends who matter will stay in your life anyway and the ones who don’t will fade away (or just move across the country, SORRY). Professors (who can help you find jobs or be excellent mentors), on the other hand, have no obligation or real reason to remember your name unless you prove yourself.
4. Don’t freak out over not having a job lined up.
Everyone says this phrase to the point where the words start to feel like a surrealistic, meaningless jumble, but it’s true. You’ll hear about one or two people having a handsomely paid consulting position waiting for them after graduation, and suddenly you’ll feel like the only loser who doesn’t have it together.
It might take a few months after graduating to secure the right gig, especially if you have a more specific job in mind. That’s reality. You can hyperventilate over it or you can take a deep breath and move on.
5. But also apply for as many things as you can.
OK, so after spending what amounts to a new BMW every year on your college tuition, the last thing anyone wants to hear is that their degree/GPA won’t ensure them their dream job right away (obviously, this varies based on what you picked as your major).
Yes, you should absolutely have standards for what you apply to — but you should also be as broad as you can. Go on interviews. Practice. Learn what you like, because having spent your whole life in school, you can never really be too sure about what you want to do for the rest of your life. And you’ll only get lucky by having more options.
6. And for the love of god, stop comparing yourself with others.
Yes, you’ll have friends who totally BS’d through college who’ll get a job before you. Yes, you’ll lose your dream job to idiots with great connections. It’s mind-numbingly enraging — but TRUST, you will get a job too, so there’s no need to drive yourself crazy over who’s more privileged or talented than you.
And, in the meantime, be nice to your friends with jobs, even if you’re burning with jealousy, which you’re allowed to be. Hide the shade, smile, and toast so the same courtesy will be paid to you when it’s your turn.
7. Don’t let loan payments get you down.
You knew this was going to happen. We all did. And yeah, most of us probably saw an abstract number and thought, Oh, I’ll worry about it when I graduate. Except, whoops, it’s here! The time is now!
It’s messed up and unfair and we can all dream of a world where tuition is free (I think it’s called Europe?), but the best thing you can do is figure it out now while staying calm and being sensible with your money because literally, there is no other option besides sheer panic.
8. And don’t agonize over your major. (REALLY, STOP.)
The people making fun of your major are soulless and don’t know the meaning of happiness. It’s true. Experience holds so much more weight than the classes you took, which is totally logical because who cares about that incredible paper you wrote that one time?
Yeah, on one hand, it sucks that nine times out of ten, your degree won’t give you as much privilege as you thought it would. But there’s also beauty in the fact that you have flexibility and can technically qualify for many jobs so long as you do them right and rack up experience.
9. Only consider grad school if it’s what YOU want.
You don’t have a job, your parents would be even more proud of you, you’d feel more prestigious — but unless you love what you’re studying and feel that paying for more school is 110% worth it and will make you happier, don’t do it. And if you’re unsure, give yourself some breathing room and revaluate in one to two years.
10. Accept that the real world may be terrifying.
The unknown is always ominous, but just remember that you’ll only peak in college if you let yourself peak in college.
11. But also embrace the outside world, because it’s actually pretty damn great.
Even if college is the absolute best, there are better times to come. People get better. Your mind-set will get better. You’ll be one step closer to knowing yourself, what you want, and how to get it. It’s the best, in its own way.