I’m out of university some 9 months now. And in a lot of ways, I feel like I never went. Yeah, I might feel weird walking through campus now and again, but overall, I don’t feel like it’s been a massive culture shock.
I’m somewhat settled now and whilst I am putting into place the skills I learned in college, I don’t miss it all that much.
(there are days when I’d much rather be in the publications office drinking wine and listening to music but I’ve done that a few times now since leaving college)
1. What you miss is not really there anymore
You might miss hanging out in society rooms or with your friends in local coffee shops but really, if you were to go back right now, would it be the same? Would it be your friends hanging out there? Would the girl who sat beside you in Maths and Stats still be there? The sad truth is that people have moved on. So even if you were to go back, nothing would be the same. New people have taken those seats in Costa, there’s an entire new committee looking after that society, there are new ‘you’s. And whilst they think that they’re invincible, just as we did, they soon will be replaced. You will just be a blip on the college scene, and sadly that’s just the way it is.
2. Your extracurriculars matter
When it comes to applying for jobs, having a degree is great but often, it’s what you did outside your degree that really counts. In the last year, I’ve had more than my fair share of interviews and none have asked me for my degree but rather what I did to contribute to college society. What you brought to a student publication, society, student’s union is often a better indicator of the level of initiative you can take, how best you work on a team or as a leader, how you handle conflict, or how you can organise, than your degree does. I’m not saying that what you learn in your coursework isn’t necessary, it is when it comes to specific career paths, but it’s you as a person and your ability to adapt to the real world that gets you through the door in the first place
3. Free time sucks
Yes, you may be striving for all that sweet free time once you finish. Time with no essays, no exams, no commitments. And yeah, it’s great but only for a bit. There are only so many weeks/months that you can do absolutely nothing before you go a little bit, well, crazy. You slowly begin to realise that ‘doing things’ is not a vice but more what you need to do to survive and keep yourself sane. Whether it be a job, volunteering, local group, whatever, they all contribute to keeping your mind happy and healthy.
4. You’ll meet a lot of people who never went to college
And are doing the exact same job as you. And you begin to realise that not having a degree is not the end of the world. And you’ll start to put the skills you learn in the real world at the top of your CV rather than what honour roll you were awarded when you were 19.
5. Politics are huge
I mean the politics of people. There’s an unspoken hierarchy, enforced or not, in every group or workplace. Things are said to win people over, deals are made, people can take advantage of you, disliking you for absolutely no reason, test you, and so on. That’s just the nature of the game. It’s easy to get frustrated at the lack of equality in the real world but it’s up to you whether you want to change it.
6. You kind of miss the study
Well, maybe that’s just me but I did miss note taking, expressing my self with words, keeping an organised academic journal, learning and engaging with things. I wanted to start a project to keep me actively learning, (and I’m still looking for that one, perfect idea) but after eighteen years of producing work, suddenly stopping can cause a few withdrawal symptoms.
Follow me on Twitter