So, what is the real world anyways? We spend a huge part of our lives following the rigid education system that society has implemented, but as soon as that is over…now what? Are we seriously expected to be prepared to be tossed into the reality we have spent so much time avoiding? Throughout college, although seemingly difficult at the time, provides you with some of the best moments of your life. You meet new people, explore new places, and most importantly, get a better idea of who you are and where you want your life to go.
Coming from a current “real world-er,” I am here to let you know that you need to stop and enjoy every moment of your life while you’re still in school because the grass isn’t greener on the post-grad side. Here’s a definitive list of the things you will miss most when school is over and you enter the “real world.”
1. Afternoon naps.
Honestly, this one is huge for me and you probably don’t even comprehend how wonderful this ability is. When I see a college friend post that they had/are going to have a nap, I want to cry out of a combination of jealousy and exhaustion. The reality is, there is no “in between class” time to catch a nap in the adult world. Odds are, you work an 8 hour or more day and have a commute involved in many cases. When you get home, you have to take care of your other responsibilities and naps just don’t happen unless you’re sick. If I get 6 hours of sleep at night, I call it a success and brew some coffee so I can drag my ass through the day.
2. Not having to worry so much about money.
I won’t lie, The fact that I work and make money means that yes, I have more money now than I had in college. But considering how much more time you’ll spend making that money than you did in the classroom, it’s really not a vast improvement. In most cases, after you finish school and start working, you will still financially struggle for quite a while, particularly while you cope with paying back student loans.
3. Being able to fill out “full-time student” as your current employment.
Unfortunately, in our current economy, the odds of you getting hired in your field right after school, are slim. I worked at McDonald’s during high school and was shocked by the number of employees with university degrees who were making about a dollar more than me an hour and that as only because they weren’t on student wage. You can be totally educated and still end up on the bottom of the employment heap. Make sure you are getting more out of your time in school than just a degree!
This may be the biggest perk of college life that people seem to forget will no longer exist once they leave. There always seems to be a vacation time right around the corner. Unless you become a teacher, most careers will not offer Spring Break, Christmas Break, Reading Week, and 3-4 months of summer vacation. You typically will get 2 weeks of vacation when you start out and that’s pretty much it. If you happen to take a job in a 24 hour workplace, say as a nurse, you likely won’t even have statutory holidays. This is reality so enjoy your holidays while you can! Sure you may still have to study but I’ve seen your Facebook photos people, everyone knows you’re spending your time off the way you want.
5. Friend-time, all of the time.
I am so jealous of all the time college students get to spend with their friends. Granted some of it is spent studying together or working on projects. But you still get to have social interaction. Truthfully, once you leave school, arranging to get together with people is a lot more difficult. There are so many responsibilities you have and suddenly simply finding the time, let alone scheduling things that fit other people’s availability, becomes a challenge. I’m sorry to tell you but real life is nothing like Sex and the City.
6. Knowing you can always just go home.
If things get too hard to handle, you can still go home. Odds are, your old bedroom remains totally intact, and you probably still live there on holidays. When you’re in college, (although you may be an adult based on age) you’re still your parent’s child. When you leave home for good and start a life of your own,, it becomes more difficult to go home when you feel like you need it. You can’t walk away from your job, your house, or your bills. Leaving school is the first time you really feel like you’re done with being a kid and it can be incredibly stressful and scary.
7. You don’t have to make adult decisions.
One of the things that changed the most when I left school was my ability to have conversations about stress with friends. They were still stressing about exams which, while important, was not the same as things that I was stressed out about. When you’re still in school, you’re not thinking about when you’ll be able to buy a house with how awful the market is and how a mortgage works. You’re not wondering how you should finance your car, when off-peak hydro hours are, or whether you should claim your charitable donations on this year’s tax return instead of saving them. Very few students are worrying about how to boost your credit rating, or whether you’re contributing to your retirement funds enough. This is a beautiful thing. Cherish it!
9. Having more free time than you know what to do with.
College students talk about being busy all the time but in reality, you don’t go to class nearly as often as many people go to work. There are of course exceptions to the rule, but generally speaking, you have way more time to socialize and do activities when you’re in school.
Truth be told, it’s much better to enjoy every phase of life to the best of your ability as you’re experiencing it and as much as I see people complaining about the challenges of college, it’s the last time in your life where you are truly free and still able to somewhat experience childhood. It’s a time period where you can grow and learn so much about yourself if you embrace it. You have your whole life to be an adult, but you only have this small period of time to enjoy the last years of your education. Try not to rush because believe me, you’ll miss it!