Hard Truths of the Real World

Life After Graduation

By Valerie Willis
05/06/2015
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For four years, you’ve been floating in a collegiate bubble thinking that the world is your oyster, seasoned with potential and sautéed in a sauce of dreams-come-true. You’ve made decent grades, joined a few clubs, and have a sparkly resume to prove you’re hot stuff. Your vision of life after college includes fame, fabulousness, and a $100K entry-level job. College was the hard part; the rest of life will be an easy coast downhill…

I hate to pop your glittery dream cloud, Utopian, but there’s this looming concept called the Real World where doses of truth aren’t exactly served with a spoonful of sugar.

To prepare your little bottom for the inevitable flogging of reality, I’m here to guide you through the hard truths of the Real World. It may seem scary, but you can take comfort in having a semi-seasoned advisor who has endured that first step and lived to tell the tale. What follows is the advice that should be given out with every diploma—consider it a prereq for real life.

Jobs. Welcome to the infinite pool of job-seeking college grads. You may have been a big duck in a little puddle during college, but out here, you’re a minnow in a vast ocean where people aren’t above fighting dirty. Entry-level jobs aren’t always easy to come by, and once you do snag one, get ready to grunt and grovel your way up the ladder.

Student Discounts. The RW doesn’t accept student discounts. As much as you flash that out-of-date student ID, it just doesn’t work like it did near campus. Prepare to pay full price for food, drinks, books, software, and movie tickets from now on.

Gym Memberships. Remember bitching about student fees? Those measly dollars and cents paid for an all-access pass to state-of- the-art workout facilities. In the RW, you have to pay a lot more to share an elliptical with common folk. Then again, who needs to work out when you can’t afford to eat?

Insurance. You’re no longer covered by the school’s (or your parents’) insurance policy, so if you’re unemployed and uninsured, avoid moving vehicles, slippery floors, sidewalk cracks, unsecured heights, unprotected sex, undercooked meats, open flames, and sharp objects.

Free Stuff. The days of mooching free pizza from club meetings, free copy quotas, free beer from frat parties, and free movie showings in the Union are long gone. When the RW doles something out, it expects reimbursement.

Alarm Clocks. Remember 7am? It’s that ungodly hour you probably haven’t seen since high school. In the RW, you can’t sleep until noon, roll out of bed, hop on your friend’s bike and have him pump you to class. There’s this thing called responsibility that puts an end to your snooze-buttoning days by dragging your ass out of bed at 7am for work.

Paying Up. You didn’t think those four years of classes and university amenities were free, did you? Post-graduation, you’ve gotta start paying off your student loans. Just think of the good times in college to ease the pain of regularly emptying your pockets. 

Don’t let the RW getcha down. These are only the hard truths; there are a heap of positive things about those first years off-campus. (No more theses, homework, all-nighters, lectures, or tests!) Know that you’re not alone—there are millions of recent college grads going through this with you, so hunker down and muscle through your initiation to the Real World.

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