College Life vs. Work Life

Jumping into the working world out of college is a wonderful and exciting time. It’s a chance for you to put the things you learned in your courses into practical use, make some money and see what you’re made of.

Let’s face it – in high school and in college, you were basically told what to do most of the time and all of the things you needed were provided for you. Working life is different. For students who are more independent, this is an enormous relief. For those who are still getting their footing in the real world, this may be a challenge.

Whichever category you fall into, working life is different. Dealing with conflict at work, trying to meet your boss’s expectations, and being comfortable in professional clothing and in a working environment are all things that may take some adjusting to.

On the flip side, you’ll have more independence, more money, and a whole new world to explore.

If you’re entering the job market for the first time after school, here are some challenges you may face:

1) Changes in your social environment.

In college, you had a ready-made social life of peers who had similar interests as you. It was easy to find time to hang out and socialize, even with a heavy academic schedule. You lived together in a dorm, shared meals, and walked together to and from classes. Social events were filled with the same faces you saw every day. When you join the working world, you’ll find that your social life will look a little different. You’ll be with people from different backgrounds and ages. Which is a great opportunity for you to expand your interests and continue learning after school!

2) Where are the free activities?

College was full of sponsored activities – sports events, plays and performances, trips, and other events. If you wanted to practice a sport, the equipment and the coach were paid for by the school. Life outside of school won’t offer such perks, but you will most likely be exposed to a greater range of interesting activities and events than you were while living on campus.

3) Responsibility.

In college, if you drank too much the night before and had a hangover, or stayed up late and were too tired to make your morning class, you could skip it and get the notes later from a friend. As you can probably guess, this same attitude won’t go over well at work. At your job, your performance makes a difference in the company’s success. Showing up on time, paying attention to instructions, and being accountable are all important aspects of job responsibility.

4) Work clothes.

In college, you could roll out of bed, toss on some yoga pants and a t-shirt and skip into class carrying a giant cup of coffee and it didn’t matter if you spilled half of it down your shirt on the way. Most companies have a dress code. Some of them are more casual than others, but the vast majority won’t find yoga pants acceptable. Maybe this will be the best part of work for you – dressing and feeling as a professional. Maybe this is torture and you’d rather wear a hoodie and flip flops. There may be some grin and bear it moments involved in learning to dress for work. Unless you want to quit because your boss asked you to tuck your shirt in, you’ll learn to deal with it.

5) Food matters.

While a lot of people have the image of college students living on ramen noodles, in fact, most colleges have pretty generous meal plans that offer a variety of options for students. When students first leave college and get a job, that’s when a lot of them fall into a nutrition gap. Developing good eating habits is another responsibility that comes with working life and being on your own. Make sure to take care of yourself by eating lots of fruits and vegetables, drinking lots of water, and eating lean proteins.

6) Continued education.

Though you’ll hopefully be learning new things at your job, many students find that they miss the constant mental stimulation of college where each semester they learned something new. The end of college doesn’t have to be the end of your education. You may decide to go for a master’s degree or take classes at a community college or online. There are a lot of ways to continue learning after college.

7) Money.

For many, their first job out of college will be the first time they make a real salary, not just minimum wage from flipping burgers or babysitting. Maybe you’ll have the luck or the determination to land a great job out of college. Maybe you’ll start out as an intern and work your way up. Whatever your salary, this may be the first time you have to learn to budget your money. Rent, bills, student loans, meals, entertainment, etc. –  all of these things will require you to analyze your resources and plan accordingly. It can be exhilarating to be making money for the first time. Finding the balance between what you want and what you can afford is another part of the post-college learning curve.

Author: Coby Stephens is a dedicated content writer and a student career consultant at writing company. He provides students and recent graduates with career and resume writing advice.

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