Hey guys, hope you’re doing well. If you’re a recent graduate who’s going through the emotions and wondering if how you’re feeling is normal and if it’s going to get better, then keep reading. As a past graduate, I know that expectations can be very high but unfortunately for a lot of us the reality of it is a very different story. In this blog post I’m going to discuss what real life is like after University.
Here are 7 points you need to know about the real world once you graduate
1 – You may not get the starting salary you expected
For a lot of people at university, they tend to think that having a degree means a much higher starting salary in their chosen career field. Now this may not be completely untrue, but for the majority of people the ‘much higher’ tends to be unrealistic, though it’s important to remember that career fields differ. The starting salary for a junior business analyst may be very different to that of a teacher or junior doctor. You also need to understand that every job has it’s ‘peak’ salary. For example, no matter how experienced you are as a teacher, it’s very unlikely you’ll be getting £100k a year.
I remember thinking that I would earn £40k straight out of University, and when I saw starting salaries for graduate jobs advertising around the £25k – £28k mark, I was not impressed. But as time goes on you begin to realise this isn’t totally a bad thing. Now thats not to say you’re salary won’t increase over time because it will with experience, but just know that very little jobs pay the millionaire paycheque all graduates hope for. Heck, even getting to 50k a year could take years in itself for many people, so be patient and just continue to work hard…you will reach the top of your industry in the long run.
2 – You will most likely move back in with your parents
University is a bubble and because you’re in a good place it’s easy to start making all these life plans. Don’t worry, I did it too. You’ve finally moved out from your parent house, you have your independence, you have your weekend job, you have your student loan coming in every few months, you live next to all your friends, you’re out socialising more than ever etc… This all sounds like the good life right? So because you’re on this high, you believe it can continue once you graduate. The sad thing is unless you’re rich, it doesn’t continue and for the majority of people, you go back to the life you had before university. What’s that? Well you move back in with your parents because you have nowhere else to go, your friends go their separate way, your student loan income has stopped and of course you give up your weekend job to move back to your home town, which means you’re unemployed again and a temporary couch potato. Not the life you envisioned? You’re not alone but understand that moving back in with your parents is a completely normal move and you shouldn’t think you’re going backwards in life because of it. Use it as a time to get yourself together, relax and celebrate the fact that you’ve just completed your degree and of course start planning your next move or goals for the year to come.
3 – You may lose some friends
Wouldn’t it be great if we could keep in touch with all the friends we make at University. For some of us with small circles we do, but since University is a place where you meet a ton of different people the likelihood of building on all of those relationships after graduation is very little. The reason being is not only does everyone goes back to their normal life before Uni, but adult life begins and you’re no longer in a space where you’ll get to see all of these people in one place everyday. If you’re someone that spoke to lots of different people then its most likely that half of your friends will end up as social media friends – the ones who only message you when they’re wishing you a happy birthday on Facebook, or the ones who watch your IG story and DM you saying you should meet up but never actually follows through…you get the point. The truth is as time goes on, your circle of friends become smaller and you begin to actually see who your true friends are. Also, when you have your career and family, the time you spend seeing your friends becomes even less so can you imagine trying to keep up with the 20 friendships you had at University? That doesn’t include the friends you made at school, college, work, church etc… It’s a lot so if those friendships fade out don’t feel bad. Instead just focus on the friendships that are still alight and interesting to you.
4. You may hate your job
As well as not getting the starting salary you expected, it’s very common for graduates to not get the job they desired straight away. Now I’m not going to sit here and say that you’ll get your dream job within 2 years because that’s a lie. The truth is it really does depend. Some people work in a job they hate until they’re in their 30’s and others get into their career pretty soon after graduating. I believe it all depends on your perseverance. I understand that it can be very difficult to stay motivated when you literally wake up every day and go to a job you hate. You know that there’s something better out there for you but you’ve experienced so much knock backs and rejections that trying to do better becomes daunting. However, it’s important to know that so many people are in this position. There are friends of mine who have been in this position and whilst some made it out, some are still there working a job they hate. The difference between the two is the amount of time and effort they put into trying to do better. Unfortunately as we go through adult life, though we hate our job it can be very easy to become complacent. You wake up and complain about work but actually you’re not doing much to change it. Bills kick in, the kid comes and before you know it you no longer have time to put yourself first, so you stay in a job you hate so the bills get paid and your child gets fed. A sad reality for many people who have degrees, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end if you have life and career goals. Don’t be complacent. Never give up!
5. You may never pay off your student loan
Do you have £20k, £30k or £40k to pay off your student loan in one go? Neither do I and I’m sure I’m speaking for the majority here. Now I only just realised this after looking at my student loan annual statement for the first time recently, but the interest on my loan means that every year it increases rather than decreases. So the £50/month that comes out my paycheque…yeah that’s not doing anything. If I’m paying off £600 a year and the interest is £1000 then clearly I need to either win the lottery or accept that I am never going to pay this off.
6. You may not know what career you want to pursue yet
Too many graduate feel like they need to have their life together by the age of 22. A few years go by and you still don’t know what you want to do with your degree, so you begin to feel like a failure because now you’re 25 years old, your friends are married with careers and here you are still trying to figure out what you want to do in life. My advice? Stop looking at other peoples lives as a timeline for yours. It’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do. Understand that it’s normal for interests to change. As you experience life and grow as a person, you finally start to work out what in life will make you fulfilled. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need to try different jobs before knowing what suits you, because as we know what a job looks like it very different to what the job actually is. I use to think earning lots of money was the dream and so I got a finance job because I was good with numbers. However, I’ve always been interested in the creative industries but I heard it never paid. Well with life experience I’ve learnt money doesn’t make me happy, so making the change from finance to TV was one of the best decisions, because I don’t wake up hating my job but feeling like I needed to do it anyway for the money.
7. You may think about further studies…to pass time
Not everyone that thinks about further studying does it to pass time. Some people figure out what they want to do and they simply require a master degree or additional qualification. But for others, not knowing what they want to do can lead them back to their comfort zone, which is studying. It’s what they’ve known all their life and if they’re smart, getting good grades is what they’re good at, but it doesn’t solve the problem. Feeling like you’ve failed, or you’re failing is never a nice feeling, but studying an additional subject just because you haven’t figured out your next move yet is only going to delay the reality you have to face. If this is you then think carefully about what difference this is going to make in your life and career, especially now that you have experience life as a graduate and the fact that having a degree does no guarantee you a job or good salary.
8. Jobs won’t ask to see your degree certificate
You spent £9k a year at University, stayed up late nights and stressed over deadlines just so you could achieve your 1st or 2:1 degree. The least employers could do it ask to see your qualification right? Mehhh well I wouldn’t hold your breath. I graduated University 7 years ago in 2011, yet not one job I’ve worked has ever asked to see my qualification. That’s just something you’re going to have to get use to unfortunately. To combat the feeling of university regret every time you see the student loan deduction on your paycheque, I would advise thinking of the positives University has had on your life. So for me, I learned how to be independent and work hard on my own accord to accomplish a goal. I learned how to manage my time to prioritise my workload. My communication skills amongst professionals improved. I became more confident, learned a lot about myself, interacted with people from different backgrounds and finally matured as a young woman. Honestly, looking back at the woman I was at college vs the woman I’ve become today, I am truly thankful for University, so much so that never having used my degree to this date doesn’t bother me at all.
9. You may experience some form of depression and anxiety
Pulling all of these points together (along with many more I’m sure) it’s very common for many people to experience the post-uni blues, otherwise referred to as post-uni depression, which also comes along with anxiety. I truly believe that this is more common than we realise, but not many people talk about it. I’d say about 90% of my friends have experienced this and some are still going through the emotions, but I wouldn’t have known this had I not discussed my own personal difficulties. Think about it, you’re promised the world when you’re growing up. You’re constantly told if you work and study hard you’ll be successful, so you do. The world is your oyster yet at the age of 28 you’re not too far from the same position you were in when you graduated and having settled into life, you can’t see it getting much better. Your salary hasn’t increase, maybe you’re in a job you hate, you cant afford to move out of your parents house, you don’t socialise as much, your friends seem to be portraying a more successful life on social media so now you’re comparing your life to theirs, you’re getting fat because you’re not as active, you’re no longer participating in any interests of yours and you’re struggling to find a good partner. Do you see how this could lead to depression and/or anxiety? If you are suffering, please know that you are not alone. Simply talking about this issue with your closest friends will let you know that there are many people who have or still are experiencing these difficulties. The important thing is to understand that nobody’s life is perfect. Everything takes time; life is not a race, so as long as you keep focusing on your goal and taking baby steps to get there, you will get there. Take breaks from social media and cry when you need to – you’re not weak for showing emotion. When you’ve done that,take time to pick yourself back up and continue to grind for your goals. Remember if you don’t try to change then nothing will change, so the least you can do is try…right? As I said before, don’t get complacent and don’t give up.
10. You may have a change of mindset and view the world differently
With life experience and struggles, comes a new mindset. Now this isn’t for everybody of course but there are some of us who begin to see the beauty in the sun, sea, sand and stars. Some of us who look beyond what we’ve been told all of our lives because we’ve experienced that the bullshit we’ve been told has been somewhat exaggerated. Some of us have had the money, but noticed that the money didn’t bring peace and joy like we expected it to, so we look beyond money to find what fulfils us. A lot of us graduates grow and change in our 20’s; we begin to find ourselves and some of us start to realise the person we want to become. Some of us see how toxic this earth is and as a result decide that we want to live to work, not work to live. We want to experience the beauty of life and so money no longer becomes a major motivational for us. Of course, that is just some people.