Transitions | Graduating From College

This is part three of my series on transitions.

When I graduated from college back in 1983 I have very clear recollections of graduation day.  It was hectic.  My entire family had come for the event–parents, sister and her family and my brother and his family.  It was sort of chaotic.

I remember having a vague sense that though excited about graduating I was about to part from some people that had become very close friends over 4 years.  And I think I knew that I would not see them again. 

That’s exactly what occurred.  Oh, some, including my roommate of 3.5 years, are still friends.  But most of those are people I didn’t continue to keep up with (strangely, Facebook has changed all of that.  The same thing is true for high school).

For those who go to college straight out of high school, finishing college is the time most enter the workforce.  Of course there are some who continue with their education to pursue graduate or post graduate degrees, but for the majority, with diploma in hand, it is to work they go.

That transition can be challenging.  Whereas for many, parental support continues during college years.  I know I certainly made more than one call home to ask mom for money!  But when we graduate (and 43% of high school grads who start college won’t graduate in even 6 years) from college, most of the time the next steps are not on the parents dime.

Certainly the economic downturn in the US since 2008 has challenged much of this, with many people in their late 20s or 30s returning to live with parents if they cannot find employment.  When that happens, though, it is usually understood to be for only the short term.

The transition out of college can include moves away from college town and home town to follow job opportunities.  It frequently involves decisions about home ownership or rentals, about expenses that weren’t required while still in college.

And for many, it is the first real time they encounter the bite that taxes can take out of a, usually, larger pay check.

One transition I remember with 2 years of college graduation is how much more intelligent my father seemed to me.  I began to see that much of what he had been trying to teach me when I was a teenager was based on his own life experiences.  And like a typical teen, I couldn’t accept what he was saying.

But when I turned 25 it seemed like my father’s IQ must have gone up 70 points.

Many college graduates have to begin paying back student loans once they enter the workforce.  Amounts for monthly repayment will, obviously, vary according to how much was actually borrowed to finance their undergraduate degree.  Perhaps too frequently, many graduates look immediately to grad school as the next step, without giving any serious consideration to the potential gains for their career that a graduate degree might offer.  The result is simply more debt.

I guess what I remember most about graduating from college was the awareness that finishing college was a huge step.  I wasn’t aware of how big the step was, but unlike high school (where I was clueless of the end of what had been important friendships to that point), I knew that I was about to swim out to the deeper end of the pool.

What about you?  What was graduating from college like for you?  Huge transition?  Minor modification?  



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by Thad on February 10, 2012 · 6 comments

tagged as , in life,transitions

  • Corey @ Passive Income to Retire

    Graduation from college was a huge change. We moved out of the country, moved back 6 weeks later due to illnesses, moved across the country, got new jobs, started grad school, made new friends. Luckily, I still keep in touch with my two best friends from college.

    • Thad

      I moved out of the country too! Lived in South Africa for 2 years. This was long before the Internet, so corresponding with anyone was done via snail mail.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Pam at MoneyTrail

    I just remember being excited and ready to take on the world. My husband and I got married two weeks after I graduated . I had a short term job lined up and good prospects for a teaching job the following fall. I was ready to plunge into the new phase of life and was fortunate that it all went as planned.

    • Thad

      Now that I read your comment I do remember feeling like I was ready to take on the world. Not sure I really was, but it was an incredible feeling.

      I think the part about transitions throughout life that I have not been most aware of but felt retrospectively have been the loss of friends. College, high school, job change, whatever. It always hurts a bit when those friendships slip away.

      Thanks for dropping by Pam. Really appreciate you!

  • Shayna Abrams

    To be very honest, I never went to college – by choice. I was actually registered and paid for through loan agreements, but I never bit the bullet. I knew that I just didn’t know what it was that I was signing up for at that age. I knew it was a lot of money and I wasn’t even sure about what career I really wanted to choose. After all….I was only 17 and career choice just wasn’t number one on my list of my true interests.
    Yes, it is true that I have suffered financially through the years, but I had a good enough job that paid my bills and nowadays I am glad that I am not stuck with one career (that I might have ended up not truly being satisfied from – as so many people that I know suffer from) that I need to depend on to live.
    There is so much more to say on this subject, but what I really want to end the thought with is the fact that I leave that choice up to my kids. I try to carefully explain the pluses (more opportunity) and the negatives (listed above) and they will have to be responsible enough to make thoughtful choices about their own lives. I will, of course, support them with their choice – however I can….but the choice (and the consequences) are ultimately their own.

    • Thad

      Thank you Shayna!

      Especially today, with the cost of college so outrageously expensive, and with the student-loan slavery that can result, many should not go to college, or at the least, they need be very deliberate about choosing to go to college.

      It is not for everyone, and there can certainly be downsides to the choice.

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