It is college graduation season once again. Tens of thousands of intrepid young men and women are preparing to venture into a brave new world in which playing beer pong at one a.m. on a Wednesday night is no longer considered a point of pride. And while nine out of ten grads will be walking away with at least some debt (the average student will owe $25,000), a college education remains a valuable albeit increasingly costly investment.As the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin said during his commencement address, “time shifts gears right now and starts to gain speed.” In time for her looming ten-year college reunion, Anya Kamenetz, the higher education reporter for the Washington Post, looks back on the five worst mistakes she made as a new grad:
1. I thought I was done learning.As a former literature major, I dreaded anything having to do with spreadsheets. But after interpreting international education studies, writing columns on consumer finance and even splitting bills with roommates, I conceded that Excel is actually pretty useful. I also had to become conversant in classical economics, presentation skills and WordPress for my job. . . .2. I chased relationship drama.You can be with the right person for you even if you’re not in a rush to settle down. I learned that the hard way when I dumped my long-term boyfriend and tried to play the field. Today, nothing in my life is more central to my happiness than my husband (yes, that same boyfriend) and our baby daughter. . . .3. I thought “disorganized” equaled “creative”.I was the kid with a backpack stuffed with overdue library books, and I chose a career that wouldn’t require pressed suits and 8 a.m. conference calls daily. I thought being laissez-faire was the sign of a mind attuned to higher matters. That changed when I got back from a two-month backpacking trip to find a $42 unpaid credit card bill had gone into collection — I’m still paying the consequences on my credit report. . . .4. I listened to greed more than my gut.When I was just starting out, I got a tip from a friend on a freelance writing job. The work (writing encyclopedia entries) was easy and interesting, and the pay sounded great, but something seemed a little off about the man who was hiring me. Long story short, I signed a contract, wrote more than 10,000 words and never saw a dime. . . .5. I started to let inertia take over.Neurologists say the human brain continues to grow and mature significantly up until the age of 25. And sure enough, it took me until about that age to realize that any improvements to my body, mind and life would require some conscious effort: I started working out regularly, met with a therapist for a year, and worked some de-stressors like yoga into my life. After graduation, there aren’t as many advisors around to help you.
Some new grads may have already landed their dream job (or what they think is their dream job). Others will end up toiling away in the basement of Mead Manor, occasionally sneaking up to the surface to ensure their vitamin D deficiency doesn’t require hospitalization. All will undoubtedly make mistakes and confront unforeseen challenges.Via Meadia would like to solicit the opinions of its faithful readership. What did you learn after graduating? What advice would you give to your former, just-graduated self? Let us know in the comments.