11 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was A College Senior

Dear College Seniors,

Most people write to you during graduation season. I consider that a courtesy letter. By then, most of you have resigned to the “best” option available and are determined to move into it. By then, it is too late to say what I have to say.

I know that there are two groups of you. The first, being the better college students, dream about heading into the adult world to fit into the world. They will look for gratification from their peers, follow the footsteps of paths and plans already trodden, and see success in the checklist of their lives. Even though you want to consider your life unique and spontaneous, face it, you know where you are headed. This is not a discouragement as the world needs these people.

The other group — you know exactly who you are — will leave college as a blank slate and hope to still ride along carefree, just like the last four years. Sure, you believe the you have tried in college and that you will succeed in life. You will pursue what you know in your heart you want, but are also utterly unsure of how to get there. It may look selfish or unguided to many, but we need these people too.

I went through college in the second group, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do or be known for. During college, I believed I had too many interests and directions to go in life. As soon as I started working I found out much quicker what I liked and what I was good at.

Both groups act as a counterweight for the other. Envy and suspicion spread amongst the divisions as each suspects the other of an easier life. The prison is deeply rooted in each individual’s psyche, and is no one’s fault. But you need to get over yourself. Quickly, perhaps even today.

Do not blame each other or other generations, past or future, about the easier outset they had leaving college. Now is your time to show everyone what we want to know… what is the future of our workforce look like?

These statements do balance on the dramatic side, but please continue to pay attention. How you act in your own life is just as important as how you react to others, especially at this crucial time in your life.

A few key points to remember:

1. Don’t let anyone tell you that “adulthood” is the real world. The world you are living in right now is real. The decisions you make during football season will impact where you are next football season. The only thing that will change will be your title as alumnus.

2. Trust me, working for money is much more gratifying than working for grades.

3. Don’t shoot for titles or higher salaries in the beginning. Money will come, as will promotions, but time is something you will not be able to recapture. Don’t lose out on what you want because you are to afraid of falling on your face.

4. People on this side of the graduation diploma always talk about “failing more.” You will fail at times. That does not mean that we all know about it though. Treat each experience as an education but keep failures to yourself until you have had enough of them to form a synopsis.

5. Everyone has a story to tell. It is better to listen to others than to reveal your own.

6. Learn what makes you creative. It doesn’t have to lead to money or an “I’m famous online” status. Find what makes you want to create more and pursue it.

7. Don’t spend too much time on social networks or the Internet. It is a time suck towards advancement. Unless you are in marketing, advertising, programming, film, or writing don’t waste your time. You are those lucky few I mentioned earlier who can fit into the world. The internet is for the rebellious.

8. You will make your own tribe. Parents, siblings, friends, and acquaintances will all go their own ways. Do not try to follow, but stick to what you know you are destined to do. Wherever you go you will meet people who will take care of you just like family.

9. Drop the people who do not treat you like family.

10. Do not rely on others to keep you motivated. Everyone will be vying for their passions and ambitions. If you rely on someone else then you will end up following their dreams.

11. Do not be the prick who thinks they are headed for the perfect post-college gig. Odds are that will change and you will be left to eat your words. 

 

This is the edited version posted to Thought Catalog.