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5 Things Nobody Tells you About Graduating from College

5 Things Nobody Tells you About Graduating from College

So you’re entering your final year in college and prepping to graduate. Now get a job, ya deadbeat! If you think reality TV is crazy, wait until you see reality. A career, home, family—you’re looking down the barrel of a lot of long-term commitments. You’ll hear a lot of motivational speeches during your graduation ceremony about how you should follow your dreams because the future of our world depends on you. I’m not here to fill your head with gum drop dreams of you becoming the next leader of the free world. I’m here to give it to you straight. Here are five things nobody tells you about graduating from college that you seriously need to understand…

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    1. Grades Don’t Matter

    You put your nose to the grindstone and got straight As throughout your schooling. That’ll get your foot in a couple of doors, but in six months, your grades will mean absolutely nothing. You’re not in school anymore. Nobody cares how many points you score in practice. When you go pro, you’re only as good as your last project. If you ruin a data import that pushes the company behind and costs millions of dollars, the 24-hour on-call IT and accounting managers who have to fix your problem aren’t interested in your ability to guess the right answer on true/false quizzes. Don’t rest on your laurels.

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    To counter this trapping, keep working harder. Don’t expect to get hired for an executive-level position straight out of college. You’re likely going to have to start at the bottom somewhere. Odds are you’ll be working for someone with a lesser degree than your own; don’t let it get to you. Keep working harder. People grade you in the real world by giving you their money. Keep doing your homework and reaching for those high grades, and you’ll eventually see a payout.

    2. You’re All, “A Loan…”

    Haha, you got ripped off, dude. First off, I hope you noticed the majority of your textbooks weren’t available on Kindle. When Reddit founder Aaron Swartz noticed educational information isn’t publicly available and attempted to correct the situation by downloading and releasing educational databases, he was prosecuted to the fullest extent of outdated digital laws. That’s a sign of a huge racket refusing to change. To make matters worse, you’re stuck with a $100 History of Ancient Rome textbook you’ll never crack open again because a new edition has been released with new information about something that happened 3000 years ago that’s relevant enough to necessitate the release of a new edition. If that’s not bad enough, you took out loans to pay for all of this insanity.

    Stafford and Sallie Mae are a disease transferred to your social security number when you were getting nailed by your school. The debt from financial aid never goes away, and it’s immune to bankruptcy. If you let it go untreated, your pay will be garnished to automatically pay for it (which may or may not leave you with enough left over to continue living your lifestyle). The only thing you can do is treat it with monthly payments.

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      3. You Should’ve Dropped Out

      I never got a degree myself. It’s not that I didn’t have enough credits or intelligence; I just never wanted to give credit for all of my future accomplishments to some university. The idea of being haunted for the rest of my life by letters from the alumni association asking for money was too much for me to handle. Despite dropping out, I’ve had a pretty good run thus far. At Bank of America, I was working alongside people with degrees. I even managed quite a few of those people. Since I left the bank, I worked to build a career as a writer, and my career was accomplished enough that nobody ever asked whether or not I have a degree.

      Anecdotes aside, plenty of people are successful without a college degree. You may not be Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, but you still have a lot more options without graduating than you do by graduating. Even if you don’t drop out completely forever, drop out for at least a year. It will only set you back a year up front, and you’ll more than make up for that in the long run with the experience and wisdom you gain by traveling, pursuing a dream career in the arts, and just living life. Once you’re ready to graduate, come back and get that albatross of a degree to hang around your neck. No harm, no foul.

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      4. Employment Isn’t Guaranteed

      Once you graduate, you’ll be placed in a position you like that’s related to your degree, and everything will work out. If you think that last sentence was true in any way, you’re wrong…but you’re not alone. A lot of us thought life worked that way at one point or another – I know people in their 50s and 60s who still feel entitled. It’s not your fault; people throughout the education system were feeding us the Kool-Aid, and we trust them because they’re educators. It turns out you can’t trust anyone in life.

      The National Association of Colleges and Employers estimates over 1.7 million people will earn a bachelor’s degree in 2013. You may have heard the term “one in a million” used to reference you in a good way, but when you’re one of the 1.7 million people clamoring for the same jobs, the odds are against you. You may have to accept a job you don’t like or feel is beneath you. Make sure you only do this if it’s related to your actual dream job. There’s no shame in a call center or manual labor position, but those “transition jobs” you take while waiting for your dream career can quickly drain your time. The next thing you know, you’re a career McManager. Be prepared, and be willing to look outside of your box. Learn more about how to effectively search for jobs with this Lifehack.

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        5. Don’t Forget Anything You Learned

        When you start your new job, someone will tell you to, “forget everything you hear.” What they’re trying to tell you is that your book learning isn’t going to help you in the real job. This is true to a point, but somewhat of a misnomer.

        It’s true that you’ll learn a lot of proprietary information in your job that you couldn’t possibly have learned in school. There are also classes (Computer, Accounting, etc.) you took once, twice, or even every year that you’ll never use. Just because you took an accounting class doesn’t mean any company in their right mind would allow you to touch their accounting data if you’re not an actual accountant. The thing is, what you learned in school is important, and you should be mindful of discrepancies.

        If you were working at Enron, Worldcom, Countrywide, etc. during the collapse of these companies, there’s a good chance you were unaware you were even doing anything illegal. Even if you were aware, you likely didn’t do anything to stop it. This is because you forgot what you learned in school. Ethics matter, and you’re not always going to learn them in the real world. All the basic foundational skills and facts you learned in school are extremely important; never forget that… no matter what anyone tells you.

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        Last Updated on May 20, 2019

        How to Prevent Inaction from Leading to Regret

        How to Prevent Inaction from Leading to Regret

        Time.

        When you think of this construct, where do you see your time being spent?

        As William Shakespeare famously wrote “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me…”

        Have you used your time wisely? Are you where you want to be?

        Or do you have unfinished goals to attain… places you want to be, things you still need to do?

        The hard truth is, that time once passed cannot be replaced–which is why it is common to hear people say that one should not squander time doing nothing, or delay certain decisions for later. More often than not, the biggest blocker from reaching our goals is often inaction – which is essentially doing nothing, rather than doing something. 

        There are many reasons why we may not do something. Most often it boils down to adequate time. We may feel we don’t have enough time, or that it’s never quite the right time to pursue our goals.

        Maybe next month, or maybe next year…

        And, before you know it, the time has passed and you’re still no where near achieving those goals you dream about. This inaction often leads to strong regret once we look at the situation through hindsight. So, take some time now to reflect on any goal(s) you may have in mind, or hidden at the back of your mind; and, think about how you can truly start working on them now, and not later.

        So, how do you start?

        Figure Out Your Purpose (Your Main Goal)


        The first important step is to figure out your purpose, or your main goal.

        What is it that you’re after in life? And, are there any barriers preventing you from reaching your goal? These are good questions to ask when it comes to figuring out how (and for what purpose) you are spending your time.

        Your purpose will guide you, and it will ensure your time spent is within the bounds of what you actually want to accomplish.

        A good amount of research has been done on how we as humans develop and embrace long-term and highly meaningful goals in our lives. So much so, that having a purpose has connections to reduced stroke, and heart attack. It turns out, our desire to accomplish goals actually has an evolutionary connection–especially goals with a greater purpose to them. This is because a greater purpose often helps both the individual, and our species as a whole, survive.

        Knowing why it is you’re doing something is important; and, when you do, it will be easier to budget your time and effort into pursuing after those milestones or tasks that will lead to the accomplishment of your main goal.

        Assess Your Current Time Spent

        Next comes the actual time usage. Once you know what your main goal is, you’ll want to make the most of the time you have now. It’s good to know how you’re currently spending your time, so that you can start making improvements and easily assess what can stay and what can go in your day to day routine.

        For just one day, ideally on a day when you’d like to be more productive, I encourage you to record a time journal, down to the quarter hour if you can manage. You may be quite surprised at how little things—such as checking social media, answering emails that could wait, or idling at the water cooler or office pantry —can add up to a lot of wasted time.

        To get you started, I recommend you check out this quick self assessment to assess your current productivity: Want To Know How Much You’re Getting Done In A Day?

        Tricks to Tackle Distractions

        Once you’ve assessed how you’re currently spending your time, I hope you won’t be in for too big of a shock when you see just how big of an impact distractions and time wasters are in your life.

        Every time your mind wanders from your work, it takes an average of 25 minutes and 26 seconds to get into focus again. That’s almost half an hour of precious time every time you entertain a distraction!

        Which is why it’s important to learn how to focus, and tackle distractions effectively. Here’s how to do it:

        1. Set Time Aside for Focusing

        One way to stay focused is to set focused sessions for yourself. During a focused session, you should let people know that you won’t be responding unless it’s a real emergency.

        Set your messaging apps and shared calendars as “busy” to reduce interruptions. Think of these sessions as one on one time with yourself so that you can truly focus on what’s important, without external distractions coming your way.

        2. Beware of Emails

        Emails may sound harmless, but they can come into our inbox continuously throughout the day, and it’s tempting to respond to them as we receive them. Especially if you’re one to check your notifications frequently.

        Instead of checking them every time a new notification sounds, set a specific time to deal with your emails at one go. This will no doubt increase your productivity as you’re dealing with emails one after the other, rather than interrupting your focus on another project each time an email comes in.

        Besides switching off your email notifications so as not to get distracted, you could also install a Chrome extension called Block Site that helps to stop Gmail notifications coming through at specific times, making it easier for you to manage these subtle daily distractions.

        3. Let Technology Help

        As much as we are getting increasingly distracted because of technology, we can’t deny it’s many advantages. So instead of feeling controlled by technology, why not make use of disabling options that the devices offer?

        Turn off email alerts, app notifications, or set your phone to go straight to voicemail and even create auto-responses to incoming text messages. There are also apps like Forrest that help to increase your productivity by rewarding you each time you focus well, which encourages you to ignore your phone.

        4. Schedule Time to Get Distracted

        Just as important as scheduling focus time, is scheduling break times. Balance is always key, so when you start scheduling focused sessions, you should also intentionally pen down some break time slots for your mind to relax.

        This is because the brain isn’t created to sustain long periods of focus and concentration. The average attention span for an adult is between 15 and 40 minutes. After this time, your likelihood of distractions get stronger and you’ll become less motivated.

        So while taking a mental break might seem unproductive, in the long run it makes your brain work more efficiently, and you’ll end up getting more work done overall.

        Time is in Your Hands

        At the end of the day, we all have a certain amount of time to go all out to pursue our heart’s desires. Whatever your goals are, the time you have now, is in your hands to make them come true.

        You simply need to start somewhere, instead of allowing inaction waste your time away, leaving you with regret later on. With a main goal or purpose in mind, you can be on the right track to attaining your desired outcomes.

        Being aware of how you spend your time and learning how to tackle common distractions can help boost you forward in completing what’s necessary to reach your most desired goals.

        So what are you waiting for? 

        Featured photo credit: Aron Visuals via unsplash.com

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