3 Things People Don't Tell College Grads, But Should

college grads advice untoldBy Therese Schwenkler

When you graduate college, you're inundated with cookie-cutter advice like, "Follow your DREAMS!" and "Believe in yourself!!!!"

Let's get real, guys: this advice means nothing once you step out into the real world.

So let's dig into some advice that's actually useful. Today I present to you: The top three things that I wish someone had told me when I graduated college. (You're welcome!)

1. It's OK not to know what's next
When I graduated college in 2006, I had no clue what I wanted to do next.

The result? Constant anxiety.

I wish someone had told me that it's OK - in fact, it's more than OK - not to know the answers.

I wish someone had told me that I wasn't gonna die if I didn't have it all figured out, that it often takes time and experience to live your way into the answers, and that despite feeling the world is gonna end, it won't. Confusion or no confusion, you will continue breathing and you're gonna be just fine.

What's more, I wish someone had told me that not knowing in no way dooms you to failure. In fact, some of the most happy, successful people I know started out without knowing where they'd end up.

If you feel like you have to have your whole career planned out, think again. Not only is this expectation unrealistic for most of us, but it's often ineffective as well. Consider your current confusion a prerequisite to a clarity that can only come with trust and with time.

It's OK not to know. Embrace it.

2. You have the rest of your life to be serious
If you want to jump straight into a serious career, then by all means go for it.

But if travel or adventure or soul searching are whispering in your ear, don't feel pressured to jump into "real life" right away. You're still young. You're still free. You've got THE REST OF YOUR LIFE to go to work. You've got THE REST OF YOUR LIFE to be serious.

If you want to take a chance, take it now. Lose everything before you feel like you have everything to lose. Do it before it's too late, before you're old and wrinkly and looking back on your life with regrets.

The year after I graduated college, I took off to Australia for three months and allowed myself to wander and to explore and to experience life. When I came back home, I secured a desk job in corporate accounting, and I was able to do this without feeling a sense of regret about the risks I'd failed to take.

Your degree isn't going anywhere. Work isn't going anywhere. You have years and years and YEARS ahead of you. Don't feel pressured to rush into a "real person job" - instead, try considering that living may be your real job. And living doesn't have to be so serious.

Which leads me into my third point...

3. There are no "shoulds"
The horrible affliction of shoulditis is running rampant in today's society.

  • "I should have it all figured out," we tell ourselves over and over again in our heads.

  • "I should get a good job and do what's expected of me."

  • "Should should should, blah blah blah."


Allow me to let you in on a little secret of life: You WILL NOT DIE if you drop the "shoulds."


At the age of 28, I just quit my corporate job to travel around the country, to live my passions and live more simply, and to slow down. And LOOK, I'm still alive! What's more, I'm happier than ever.

There are no "shoulds," guys. Listen to your heart and don't ever let other peoples' expectations dictate how you should or shouldn't live your life.
  • If you want to go travel the world, do it.

  • If you want to teach English in Thailand, do it!

  • If you want to go bartend on a tropical island for awhile, who am I to stop you?

  • If you want to go straight into real life and get a "real job," that's fine too - just make sure you're doing it because it's what you want, not because it's what you think other people expect of you.

In the end, you're the only one who has to live your life. Others may have their thoughts or expectations, and that's fine - they get to live their life how they want to do it, but only you can know what's right for you.

Therese Schwenkler is passionate about bringing more and better direction to today's generation. Feeling lost & confused after graduation? Stuck in the "shoulds?" Visit Therese's blog, The Unlost, for the cure.

Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now

More From Brazen Life

Looking for your first job? Click here to get started.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

I agree with the Tone in Tonnie.Johnson1's comment completely.

Who the *** out of college has money sitting around to go "ADVENTURE THE WORLD." Last time I checked, you need money to Go there, you need Money to stay alive there, and you need MONEY to come back (if that is part of the plan)... I really dislike when people make it sound like some ****ing cakewalk to prance around spending cash here and there.

The REAL reality is. YES there is a need for you to have a serious job... ESPECIALLY if you want the freedom to run around spending it on a trip of self exploration. It would take someone YEARS to save the kind of money required to go on a proper getaway if they were bringing in 1500$ a month (if that) working at some burger joint paying 1000$ for rent and some-****ing-how covering living costs (good food, transportation, bare necessities) WHILE still saving from that left over 500$.

I jumped into a "Serious" job before I was even finished with my degree and it, so far, has been the BEST possible decision I've ever made. Not only do I have More than enough money to support a lifestyle I am completely comfortable with, I also have the luxury to plan a great getaway without worrying about any financial issues that may arise from it.

I personally think this article is written with a complete Utopian world in mind that neither You, nor I, live in. I promise that anyone who carved their own path, without sleeping in a cozy bed with Mommy and Daddy during their twenties could easily agree. If you're not "hustling" you are going to be just another college grad cry baby blaming everyone around you about your misfortune while STILL living for free if you're lucky enough to have healthy and financially stable parents.

annnd /endrant

October 30 2012 at 3:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

1. It's OK not to know what's next: tell that to Sallie Mae who will be looking for her money in six months. If you
don't know what to do then you should not be in college.

2. You have the rest of your life to be serious: Going to college is real life. So if you are reluctant to jump into it
then get a job flipping burgers or something and go have fun and party, then go to college once you are ready to buckle down and get a career. But only go to college after careful research into your chosen career field as well
as the best location for your chosen career, which many people don't know is very important. You may discover that the thing you want to do doesn't require a college degree at all.

3. There are no "shoulds": This is the only one I agree with. No one can tell anyone what to do with their life nor should anyone expect other people to foot the bill for their degree while they go gallivanting around the world.
if you want to backpack through Europe or go teach in Thailand then by all means do it but do it without
stiffing someone else with your bill.

September 09 2012 at 8:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Julie Janik

Expecting a young person to know exactly where they will be working in 10 years is unrealistic. I would like to know this from Therese who is encouraging the reader to take some time to travel and go on magical adventures:

Who pays for all that? Are mommy and daddy still footing-the-bill for their precious, pampered, entitled bambino?
Must be nice, you Lucky Duck.

July 24 2012 at 9:40 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Picks From the Web