It’s often hard to imagine the college years ever coming to an end. To think about giving up living down the hall, from all of your closest friends, being able to make it on your $30 per week campus job pay check, and having an ID that doubles as a meal plan and laundry card. A huge comfort of being in college is the campus community that surrounds you, but another great part of college is that taking classes outside of your comfort zone and being challenged to push yourself harder than you ever have before.
The thought of going out in to the “real” world and being a productive member of society can be daunting to say the least. The pressure to look for a job straight out of the gate even before senior year starts. We’re encouraged to seek out and fill our summers with “relevant” experiences and are constantly directed to our on-campus career development centers. The words stipend, qualifications, and resume, to name just a few, clutter our brains and it’s hard not to feel the pressure of competition pushing from every side, but what we’re failing to remember is that it’s more than okay to take a year or two exploring the “real” world before committing to a long-term job.
The value of experience is incredibly important and often overlooked when we’re in such a tizzy, a rush to secure our future and to live out the “five year plan” that we have in our minds. There is no clearly defined, single, “right” way of doing things. Settling never leads to fulfillment. Sure, sometimes we have to do things that we’re not big fans of, but when it comes to career choices, there’s no need to rush into anything that we’re unsure of. Of course, there’s the pressure of being able to support yourself. It’s possible to work a job that allows you to gain experience and further explore your interests and to have no intention of staying long-term. We all know someone who is chasing their dreams and following their passions before graduation, so why stop once you have the diploma?
These very high expectations lead us to the seemingly inevitable setting, which so often happens to new grads. Before our diplomas are even off the press, deeming us “worthy” of a chance in the job market, we feel like we must be employed, nonetheless to have secured our dream job. The need for higher education is becoming increasingly important. Not too many years ago, a high school education was more than enough to earn a living salary, but nowadays, it’s starting to feel like even an undergraduate degree isn’t enough.
It’s better to take the time to get to know yourself and your options before committing to the time (and debt!) of graduate school or to a job that won’t fill you with passion and fulfill your ambitions. Be open to the opportunities around you, let yourself move into adulthood one step at a time, and trust that you’ll know when you’re ready to commit to the right job. Despite popular belief, college prepares you to make the right decisions, whether you’ve noticed it yet or not.