I’m sorry to say, but the best years of your life might be over! For the past four to five years, you’ve been living in a comfortable bubble where the worst part of your day might be getting a C for a mid-term you didn’t even study that hard for. Or maybe you feel like you’re having a tough time fitting in. The truth is that once you graduate, nobody really cares. All the time you spent in college learning how to assimilate with others will now be put to the test!
If you don’t have a trust fund or parents who will pay for your rent, mortgage, transportation, and food as an adult, then here’s some advice for all you college graduates looking to make a name for yourself in this great cruel world.
Advice For College Grads
1) You’ll be surrounded by privileged people. The system is stacked against you. The people who get the best jobs are the ones who are not only smart, but who are well connected. The system is institutionalized to take care of people who are rich and powerful. Everybody else has to compete only on merit, and merit doesn’t really matter when you can’t even get your foot in the door. The best way to compete is to try and build relationship with people who are in power.
2) Nobody will care what you did in college after the first several months. Your GPA and awards don’t matter once you get your first job. The only thing that matters is that you show up and provide value more than your salary.
3) Face time is imperative. Because you will initially provide minimal value to your employer, face time is extremely important. Face time means your boss always seeing you at your desk by the time she comes in. Face time also means your boss seeing you at your desk when he leaves. Your colleagues and bosses all want to see you put in the EFFORT to try and do well.
4) Work sucks in general. College is amazing due to the flexibility of doing many sorts of interesting things. At work, you’re essentially a production line worker whose sole objective is to do one or two things. The standard vacation package is two weeks, and you’ll probably stop learning new things after a year. It’s important not to confuse work as a place of joy. Only the lucky people can say with all honesty that they truly love their job more than 50% of the time. Take comfort in knowing the most people don’t like their jobs. Watch the movie The Matrix and wonder whether you’re living a real life or not.
5) If you think you’re so great, then take lots of risk. The people who aren’t able to last in a corporate setting are those who have an amazing sense of entitlement, or who are truly talented individuals. It would be a crying shame if you were stuck in an environment that suppressed your genius. Hopefully someone senior can recognize your abilities. And if not, hopefully have the courage to seek an environment that allows you to flourish. Taking lots of risk when you don’t have lots of money or responsibility isn’t really that risky.
6) They couldn’t afford it on their own. Within five years out of college, you’ll start seeing so many people your same age drive expensive cars and purchase even more expensive homes. You’ll constantly ask yourself, “How can they afford such things?” You’ll then start becoming miserable with what you have because you’ll feel like you’re not where you’re supposed to be. All you’ve got to do is do the math. A lot of your peers are not buying houses and expensive cars on their own. They’ve got the Bank of Mom & Dad hooking them up. If you try to keep up with them, you will lose because you’ll be competing against TWO balance sheets, your peers and your peer’s parents. If you aren’t lucky enough to have parents who still pack your lunch and do your laundry at age 27, then focus on building your own wealth. Be proud of doing things on your own.
7) Take care of your body. Life is kind of messed up because our bodies are in the best shape of our lives in our 20s. Yet, we kill ourselves by trying to get ahead in our careers. I gained 20 lbs by the time I was 24. The weight gain was accompanied by plantar fasciitis, severe allergies, and lower back pain. Life was bad, and I was burning out. Finding time to exercise on a regular basis is imperative to prevent burnout. Burnout is what makes you irrationally quit a job with nothing lined up when you have little experience and no money. Burnout is a wealth killer. At the very least, negotiate a severance package if you plan to leave.
8) 30 will come way sooner than you think. Hopefully, you’ll have either made it by 30 or know that you will make it at age 30. The good thing about turning 30 is that your confidence will probably soar. Greater confidence will help you do better things.
9) It can get very expensive to wait to have a kid. Kids are expensive, but waiting until you’re in your mid 30s or later to have kids could literally cost you $20,000 – $30,000 to try and conceive. What’s worse, you might not even be able to have a child after spending all that money. Having children is obviously a personal choice. Just know that your odds for having a baby decline the older you get.
10) It’s much more rewarding doing what you enjoy, than making a lot of money. After 20+ years of not making money as a student, it’s natural to want to make as much money as possible after graduation. Those who spend years after college going to graduate school or medical school should be commended for being able to delay money for so long.
Because most of us live in a developed country, life is not too hard. Therefore, we really don’t need that much to be happy and experience a life quite similar to some of the wealthiest members in society. There’s a lot of evidence that says a normal $75,000 a year income is good enough for maximum happiness. The figure is closer to $150,000 – $200,000 in expensive cities like NYC and SF.
After you reach these income figures, there’s a drastic DECLINE in the amount of incremental joy from making more money. There might be an outright decline because making more money generally means working more hours with a lot more stress.
It’s worth living a life you enjoy over living a life to make more money. If you regularly save, but the time you reach retirement age, Social Security will make you an automatic millionaire.
Don’t Look Back With Regret
Regret is going to be one of the worst things you’ll have to deal with the older you get. The key to counteracting regret is to try your very best at all the chances you will take. That way, even if she says “no,” or you fail spectacularly at a new endeavor, you will never regret having ever tried. You’ll make peace knowing that such and such was not part of your destiny.
Readers, any new graduates out there who want to share your thoughts about the future? What do you plan to do with your one and only exciting life? Any older readers out there want to share what you think you should have done differently right out of college? My biggest error was not listening to more to my colleagues. I thought I knew so much, when in reality, I knew so little.
Refinance Your Student Loan With SoFi
SoFi is a fantastic social lending company that provides rates as low as 1.9% variable with auto pay and 3.5% fixed with auto pay. The reason why they can offer lower rates than the rest is because they analyze you based on merit, quality of employment, and education besides just a credit score and financials. There is zero origination and prepayment fees. Offer terms are from 5, 10, 15, 20 years in both fixed and variable. Both private and public student loans can be refinanced.
Besides low rates, one of their best features is their unemployment benefits. If you lose your job while repaying your loans, you don’t have to pay your loan for up to 12 months while you look for a new job! Interest will still accrue, but having this cash flow break is a huge benefit. They also provide job assistance guidance as well.
You can apply to refinance or apply for a new student loan here.
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