4 Things You Can Do To Make Post-Grad Life Better Than College

by Mary Rebecca Harakas

The years between 18 and early 20s are full of milestones, and the two biggest ones are often referred to as “college” and your “first job.”

Some people think that college is the best four years of your life, and when you’re in college, it does seem to be true. You’re in a time when you don’t really have to worry about figuring out the rest of your life; your biggest decision each day is likely whether or not you’re going to class.

You’re in a world where friends are everywhere and right down the street. You have the freedom to do what you want: Go out each night, wear whatever you want and drink whatever you want, all because no one will judge you.

After this comes “real life,” when you have a real job, have to wake up early, go to work each day, pay bills, manage expenses, trade in nights out for sleep and evaluate how you’ll spend the rest of  your life.

Well, it isn’t as painful and depressing as it sounds. College may be a fun four years, but after college is when it’s truly awesome. You get a steady paycheck, paid vacation days and can ultimately spend your time how you want: no class, exams or homework required.

Furthermore, life isn’t over after you start a job; in fact, it’s only the beginning. Think of the endless possibilities you have after getting your first job. And, remember, your first job won’t likely be your only job.

Life is a journey, and each step prepares us for the next, but it’s how we fill the moments between the milestones that cultivate our most cherished memories.

Remember the epic spring break trips, the adventurous nights out and the friends who filled them? You can have that, too, and more in the next years of your life.

Here are a few ideas to help you realize what you can do after you start a first job and make life even more worth living:

Take an epic vacation.

Now that you have the money and time to spend, take that exotic vacation you always wanted to take, and no, not the all-inclusive college spring break trips you're used to do.

Do something worthwhile, like take a cooking course in France, a wine country weekend in Napa Valley or a Mediterranean tour of the Greek islands. The possibilities are endless, and given how hard you work at your first job, it’s important to use your vacation days.

It’s good for you. Plus, having a vacation ahead of you gives you something fun to look forward to, so the days that aren't as fun at work will go by much quicker.

Enroll in a fun college course.

When I say, “fun” college course, I mean, something you wanted to do in college, but didn’t have the means or credits available to do it. For me, this would be a semester-long cooking class at a culinary college.

Perhaps for others, it is an art class, like printmaking or ceramics. Whatever it is, it will only make you more knowledgeable, well-rounded and give you something interesting to bring up in conversation.

When someone asks, “What have you been up to?” most people won’t expect you to say, “I’ve been learning how to master the art of French cooking at [insert culinary school].”

That’ll make others re-evaluate their lives.

Take an active role in your community.

Those who are active in their communities are the ones who know the ins and outs of their cities, the best people and all the best events to attend. Whether you are that person or not, it helps to have friends who are.

Being active in your community doesn’t necessarily mean contributing to community service, but maybe, being part of a leadership board, like an art museum or downtown alliance.

It illustrates how well-rounded, cultured and involved you are as a person, plus who wants a job to be a primary source of personal fulfillment? There’s more to life than just working; volunteering your time and talents speaks higher volumes than anything you’re paid to do.

Attend those “bucket list” events.

I’m the queen of bucket lists; I had one for my senior year of college and I also have an extensive one for my post-graduate life.

Something that is “bucket list worthy” is adventurous, out of my comfort zone and ultimately, something that I would probably do once in my life. Such events include the Kentucky Derby or the FIFA World Cup.

There are events that you’ve always wanted to attend, but now you have the means to do it. Plus it’s another great conversation starter to say that you’ll be attending the World Cup the next time around.