After two or four long years of hard work, you’ve finally walked the walk and earned your diploma. You now have an opportunity to spread your wings and test your capacity to succeed, something that every college graduate has to go through before determining their career.
This is not a rite of passage that should be taken lightly. You have time to make your final decisions, but putter around. Consider a few important things after your diploma is in hand.
1. Send Gratitude
You know better than anyone how difficult it was to get to graduation. The countless hours of study, late nights, and exams take a lot of dedication and time on your part.
However, don’t forget the many people who helped you get there. Your parents or guardians, supportive relatives, friends, spouses, and others have probably been by your side the whole way. Think of a way to show your gratitude for everything they helped you accomplish.
2. Weigh Your Options
The next step immediately following graduation is to decide the next step. Most people have two options: get a job or seek further education. What you decide depends on your situation.
Perhaps you’re struggling with student debt, and you can’t prolong payments any longer. Or perhaps you’re burned out from school and need a break. Or maybe you want to pursue a master’s degree program that requires a few years of professional experience first. In these situations, finding a job and banking some money might be best.
If you’re seeking a higher earning potential or a career that requires further education, having a master’s degree is your next step. Most people don’t want to prolong their education unless they have to, so you might want to get it done. Weigh these two options and consider carefully before making your final decision.
3. Take a Gap Year
Some college graduates with a little flexibility and adequate money decide to take a gap year rather than working or furthering their education. Typically, a gap year is a break from school or your career used to explore your options. Most use the time to explore other cultures and/or workforces and travel.
If you’re really undecided about what you want to do, or you’re simply burnt out from school, a gap year can be an excellent third option. You’ll need adequate savings or a free place to stay before pursuing this route.
4. Save Some Money
If at all possible, use the time following college to build your savings. Did you know that nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults have less than $1000 in savings? Half of that number have no savings at all.
Having a little cash on hand will make several aspects of post-college life much easier. You’ll have the beginnings of a down payment for a home, an emergency fund for unexpected expenses, a start for retirement, and money saved for future education.
Saving money when you’re in debt from school and starting your career is not always the easiest, but you can develop a few spending and budgeting habits to make up the difference.
5. Take Grown Up Steps
When you’re finally done with school, it’s time to let go of some of your more childish habits. You’re entering the world of professionals, and your personal life should reflect that. Consider taking some of the following steps:
- Clean out your closet and purchase professional wear
- Memorize your social security number
- Get a gym membership
- Get a professional email address (non-school related)
- Update your social media accounts to be more professional
6. Start Your Own Business
Many post-college graduates are sickened by the idea of working in a corporate atmosphere. They’d prefer to be their own bosses, which means becoming a business owner.
Think outside the box when starting your business. You’re at somewhat of a disadvantage because you haven’t spent much time in the professional world. Try to find an undiscovered or underpopulated niche and fill it with your great idea.
Self-employment is an honorable goal, but it’s not for everyone. Some find that it’s difficult to stay motivated and keep up with the competition. If this is you, it’s not too late to pursue a career elsewhere.
Once you take a job, it becomes infinitely more difficult to travel, so take this time after graduation to see the world. Explore different cultures, see businesses in action, meet new people, and fill your cup with personal experiences.
Traveling can open your eyes to new opportunities and possibilities that you hadn’t yet considered. If your future is undecided, this can be a great step to get you where you want to be.