The Truth Behind Your First Year After College

Preston Waters

People used to say, ‘Get ready for the best four years of your life.’ But now your standing on the graduation line waiting to be called for your diploma. Now people will say, those were the best years of your life. It went as fast as it came, and now you are unsure if there will ever be another “best years of your life.” Terrible, isn’t it?

Of course you’re happy to be done with school – to get started with your new life in the real world. But there is also a sense of fear that everyone has: what the hell are you going to do now? You just wasted 4 years of your life most likely not learning much, spent close to 200k on tuition and all you get for it is a piece of paper that assures you no job at all. Congratulations!

Ever since I was young I recalled hearing the phrase, “You need to do well in school so you can go off to college , get your degree and be successful with a high paying job because of your education.” A college degree was supposed to be our way of securing our future. It was our get out of jail free card right? Unfortunately it’s not and we as a generation have been lied too.

In this day and age, nothing is ever guaranteed. There is no assurance that if you consign onto a massive amount of debt, and four years of education, you will graduate into a high paying job. That is not the way the story goes here. Our generation has been fooled into the belief that an education directly causes a successful life and a worry free life. We have been duped ladies and gentlemen.

Newsflash: 60% of new graduates are unemployed. So much for a promising future, right? Now we are being told, “Oh wait, we didn’t mean to just to college, you need to go to graduate school, as well.” It’s a vicious cycle that demands more skill and expertise to enter an increasingly lower entry level. And for what purpose? So you can have more debt to make the same measly amount? So employers can exploit your knowledge and give you a smaller income because “no one is hiring”?

This has led many to question what they are going to do now. Many around the nation are confused and lost. No one is hiring; starting your own business is very risky; and going back to school to get your graduate degree is an even bigger waste of time if there is no return in gainful employment and who can forget the debt it will accumulate. They want us to take all these tests and waste a lot of our time trying to continue our education on a broken promise that this will help us in the future. There is the GMAT, LSAT, GRE, MCAT and on and on and on and on. It’s like they never want us to stop taking tests and buying their bullshit Kaplan review books.

As members of Generation-Y, we are seen as the guinea pig generation. That is what most of my professors would tell me when I questioned the logic of the status quo, which made no sense. A generation of experiment and burden, where national debt and increasing inflation are jettisoned onto a demographic that is increasingly less equipped to handle and unable to deal with it. From yearly editions of new expensive textbooks to college credit cards that compound 19% interest monthly, you are forced to fail.

Throughout our adolescent years, we have seen one of the greatest economic downturns since the Great Depression, and one of the worst economic spells to continue in Europe that is likely to bring ruin to the Eurozone. It’s no secret, the golden years of finishing college in four years and going off to make $70-90k a year is well behind us.

Our current predicament has left us dazed and confused. A massive group of people are living with insecurity and uncertainty. And what’s worse, with a college education, no one wants to settle for the medial job with little vertical potential like being a waiter. We want what was promised to us since we were younger.

Employers are currently only looking to hire the top of the class, the University all-stars with 4.0 GPA’s. What they are basically saying is, “If you are a good test taker, and can overdose on adderall, you are hired.” But the problem is that good grades do not correlate to a good employee. Sometimes creativity and unique thought is masked behind average grades. So what are those students to do? The ones who might best perform in a work environment but find trouble in a classroom environment where a number is the arbiter of their “potential” to succeed. Unfortunately there isn’t much options out there for them as employers have molded in their minds for years that if you want to be hired you need to be the top of your class.

There are currently more than $1 trillion worth of student loans in this country; loans that the government has so gracefully decided to charge a 3.4% interest on. How nice of them? Finally some help here! Of course with that we have also been blessed with extremely expensive textbooks every semester and tuition prices that keep rising every year. You would think our older peers would try to take some pressure off of us but lowering the cost of a worthless piece of paper known as a degree.

Yes, the cards are currently stacked against us. This will leave many of the youth misguided, depressed, unsure and duped because real life does not have an advisor to tell you what to do every semester like college did. But let us be the first to tell you that everything will work itself out, eventually. Until then, it is up to you to stay mentally tough and fight through more obstacles than any other generation had too.

Do not go to grad school. No matter what anyone tells you all you will be doing is just learning the same nonsense they were trying to teach you as an undergraduate. We are the generation of revolution, not a generation that abides to what our elders say because they are so “smart.” If they were smart then we would still have a stable economy with an unemployment rate that is suitable for the world’s greatest country. They have duped us that college is the way before and they will dupe us again by saying grad school is the way to go.

The best thing you can possibly do for yourself right now is to stay optimistic. Your time will come because the old will die out. Positive thoughts are essential as well as motivation and ambition. Be on a mission to find a job – any job that will pay your bills and allow you to climb up the ladder. Sure, it’s going to take some time to succeed, but no one around you is going to vault over these steps with ease.

A job should be your number one priority – a job that has a bright future outside of working as a waiter. And once you get that job, secure your position and work harder than anyone else, because if you don’t than someone else will. This is by no means the time to think that you can shut off your work email after 5 p.m. This is the time of your life where you need to work harder and hurdle more obstacles than you have ever accomplished. If 60% of all newly graduating classes are unemployed, there are more than a few waiting in line for your spot.

This is by no means the time to feel sorry for yourself. You will eventually find your job, but the goal is to make sure you are determined enough to find it and never give up. The future is in your hands; throughout the next 4 years you are going to have to work harder than ever. So get ready. We will have to prevail as a generation, but we must all hold ourselves accountable. Now is the time to be selfish. You should be waking up at 7 a.m. every morning to be prepared until you are hired. And please don’t waste your time – I assure you that you will regret it. Now is not the type to play Barbie and Ken with your girlfriend or boyfriend.

You will find that job, it won’t be your dream job that’s for sure and it will most likely pay nothing but we have been put through so much as a generation that I am sure deep down inside we will all work harder than ever to be on top of the food chain in whatever industry we are in.

Life is no longer a party that includes a warm keg and terrible looking sorority girls. It’s an obstacle course, and we are all pitted against each other. So get ready because it will be brutal. But if you stay mentally tough, you will prevail. Revolt against what the older generation is saying and do what your instincts say. They are not correct and have no idea what they are talking about. They put us in this mess.


Preston Waters


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