21 Things I Wish I Knew Before Graduating College | Updated for 2023 College Grads

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Post-grad life is liberating but there are so many things I wish I knew before graduating college.

things I wish I knew before graduating college

Where do I even begin with post-grad life? Surprisingly a few months ago, I had a whole college advice blog and now I can’t even comprehend what college is. But I survived and graduated. I am a first-gen student with tons of accomplishments during college. I studied hard and worked hard. But job hunting and navigating the adult world is exhausting and hard.

I think the main thing most graduates need to hear is that it will work out. It may take a while but it will work out. You also have the time to try anything new or go after your dreams and goals.

Even after graduating and getting my first adult job, moving away to Dallas, it took some time to get out of the college mindset and being an adult. I realized that no one knows what they’re doing, so don’t let the pressure get you.

Here are the things I wish I knew before graduating college and some post-grad tips for recent college graduates!


21 Things I Wish I Knew Before Graduating College


1. No one gives a flying f*ck about your GPA

So, I am a first gen student whose whole identity up until graduation was being a student. I was an honor roll student who excelled at school (not really, I had a great work ethic and tons of ambition). I managed an A- average GPA throughout college.

But after graduation, no one even asks about your GPA. Job recruiters and hiring managers don’t care. Unless you are going to graduate school, no one cares. They all care about is results and what kind of work you’ve done.

2. Post-grad depression and anxiety are real.

Again my whole identity has been a student. My brain could not comprehend what life was like without school, assignments, club meetings, etc. I had a rough last two years with the pandemic totally bombarding my internship and career plans. Then, after graduation, I only had ANOTHER internship lined up and ended up needing to take a social media detox.


Because my feed for a whole month was everyone announcing their accomplishments, long-time college friendships and relationships, how they accomplished this and that, what graduate school they were going to, and (the worst) the great job they had and were going to start in 2 weeks.

Y’all, I never had that FOMO or comparison from Instagram that people our age (Zillenials/Gen Z) have. I never wanted anyone’s life. It was rough. It’s better, but make sure you have your mental health in check your last semester. Between senioritis, anxiety, the pandemic, and stress, I was in the trenches.

I also will add that you’ll also may have burn out from college. It’s also a thing that many people have and are learning how to cope with. Always prioritize your mental health. Take care of yourself.

3. You will have the urge to need to do more.

One great upside of post-grad life and don’t have a job yet is that you have tons of time. But your body and brain are going to be used to working and running around. I would assign myself assignments to fill up the time, especially when I only worked part-time. (I have a Type A personality, btw.) I recommend taking time to unwind and relax! You just graduated. Completing college is something to be proud of.

The urge to do more and more will eventually go away. I think that this also plays into FOMO. Coming back to edit this post one and half years later, I realize that the influx of social media also makes us feel so lazy and unproductive. These a-day-in-my-life videos and the remains of hustle culture will make you feel unproductive. On TikTok or YouTube, you’ll see a 24-year-old with a six-figure business and you’re sitting there like “WTF! Why I don’t have a six figure business?” Of course, we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, but it’s hard to feel accomplished when you constantly have it in your face that someone is doing more than you.

Related: The Best 30 Day Social Media Detox Guide (+ Free Printable)


Again, first gen student here. I love my degree, but it ain’t doing much for me right now. My networking and work experience and pitching my skills are. Go to virtual and in-person conferences. I’ve had more luck with getting further in interviews by networking. I wish I wasn’t as stubborn about attending virtual conferences (but some were costing tons of money for videos and no interaction…) when I was an undergrad.

Use the little school pride you got left to ask alumni what they do, about their jobs, and to help with referrals. I didn’t know much about this until the middle of my last semester which is too late. If you are a junior or senior, get started networking now.

Update after a year and half later, having a network is useful. I recently got laid off and so many people and my friends have sent me so many jobs in the past week. I appreciate it. Also, reaching out to people has helped me tremendously. Learn to shoot your shot with your career, especially on LinkedIn!

5. It’s hard to get back into a routine.

So, I used to be a That Girl before this trend started on TikTok. Now, I’m a regular girl trying to get back on my routine. There will be a time when you are happy not to have to wake up and do so much work and think ‘Oh I can sleep in and binge watch videos all day.’

Before graduating, you need to have a plan and an idea of what you want your days to look like. I’m not saying to go into super productive mood right after graduation. Rest and enjoy your free time. But don’t allow yourself to get too lazy. It will bite you in the butt when you have to get ready at 6 AM and you went to bed at 3 AM. Trust me, I was doing that.

Related: 10 Simple Activities to Include in Your Daily Morning Self Care Routine

6. LinkedIn is the worst (and best) social media network.

Straight up, LinkedIn is a hot mess. I work in social media so I don’t know why I’m so shocked by it. But LinkedIn manages to combine the fakeness of Instagram, the connection of Facebook, and a mix of Twitter chaos and flamboyance. Look, networking is way easier on there, but it’s a hot mess. It’s such a difficult thing to explain. Just look up ‘linkedin influencers be like or ‘linkedin influencers’ on Google, TikTok, or Youtube. It’s cringe.

It takes a lot of patience to deal with LinkedIn. I recommend learning how to network there before sending a generic message and begging people for a job. I just saw a post where someone was complaining about people asking him about “pick your brain.” A lot of professionals don’t like that phase and prefer you to just ask a question or ask about what you want.

But I have made a ton of connections on there. Thanks to Linkedin, I’ve attended conferences where I’ve met with people from top media companies and attended a conference for Spotify. I also learn how to have confidence in my experience despite only having 2 years. I also have learned how to alter my resume to get noticed.

2023 Update: IDK, I find that half of the stuff that people post is fake.  But LinkedIn also reveals how people don’t value workers and the unrealistic job requirements.

7. You got time.

Excuse my French here. Fuck this bullshit about us 21-24 (or anyone in their 20s) needing to have a whole perfect plan mapped out. Don’t get me wrong, when a company asks you what you want to do in 5 years, have a plan and also have goals. But I’m tried of this narrative that everyone still pushes about having everything in line and perfect after graduating. It just leads to unnecessary pressure.

Update: I’m slowly learning that people thrive in their 30s. So don’t let the pressure of having your sh*t together in your 20s get to you, especially in this economy and inflation. Most of the 30-year-olds I speak to are living their best lives because they learned from their mistakes in their 20s.

Related: 75 5 Minute Self Care Ideas To Do on a Busy Schedule

8. Have a budget post-grad and STICK TO IT.

LOL YOU THINK YOU CAN GET THOSE STUDENT DISCOUNTS FOR ANOTHER FEW MONTHS. No. Enjoy those student discounts all throughout your last year.


2023 Update: I also recommend having to start saving any way that you can. (Post-grad me is rolling my eyes but hear me out.) If you are still in school, set a little money aside even if it is $100 in a savings account. Start building an emergency fund as soon as you can.

9. Entry-level positions are not entry.

Sadly, entry-level jobs will require some experience. I know it’s dumb. But wanting 3-5 years of experience and to know from recent grads is ridiculous. I personally feel like if I can do the job and responsibilities and have some knowledge of what to do, then I qualify.

An entry-level job shouldn’t be 3 plus years of experience YET THEY DON’T CONSIDER INTERNSHIPS…What is entry-level is the pay..Let me not go on a rant.

What I wish I knew before graduating college was that real entry-level jobs are tricky to find. Most hiring managers will prefer someone with some experience over none, sadly. (They don’t want to train people.) If you are about to graduate find jobs that you want and start learning and building up your knowledge. Learn how to make your resume suit that fits the job.

Job hunting tips: Apply if you think you can do the job and match 70-90% of the requirements. Let your internship and experience prove that you can do the job. Also, consider company culture!

Also, if you are in a creative/communications field, MAKE A PORTFOLIO. Even if you aren’t, just have a website for hiring managers and recruiters to look at. Most listings ask for examples or a portfolio. This is what has gotten me into interviews when I didn’t meet the years of experience requirement.

10. Kacey Musgraves said, “Cause being grown up kinda sucks.”

Being an adult sucks. I’m about to make a playlist just for it. I listened to Paramore’s “Hard Times” back then and was dancing along, now I’m on the verge of crying along.

Anyway, growing up and being an adult sucks at times. You are responsible for everything. Everything is expensive. You don’t know what you’re doing half the time. Gas prices go up. Food expires so quickly. Potholes. Taxes.

Honestly, I was never one of those people who wanted to grow up. I always wanted to stay young, but I always was responsible and wanted to work at the same time. My whole worth was based on working extremely hard and being productive, then it stops. Finding a job is hard. No one cares about your accomplishments. You’re on your own. Then, gas prices are high.

Anyway, go stream, Kacey Musgraves’s ‘simple times.’

2023 Update: I find that growing up still sucks, LOL. But it gets better. You’ll learn how to cope with things.

11. You got to let go of your college identity.

Please don’t make your whole identity as your university. It’s going to hurt you during job hunting. Hiring managers and your co-workers won’t care if you were the president of this and that and did whatever. One of my professors was big on telling us this because he used to hire people.

You have to honestly mature and move on. Also, living in the past is going to hinder you. Focus on the present.

12. Don’t stop learning.

Reading is one of the hobbies I had a hard time keeping up with during college. Just because you have a diploma now does not mean you know everything. There is something new to learn about. Industries are always changing. Your college probably did not teach you all the things you need to know for a job.

Besides, we are young. We don’t know everything. You always need to learn.

Related: 100 Unique Hobbies For Women in Their 20s To Try and Have Fun

13. Don’t ‘Easy Apply’ on Linkedin.

Don’t apply to 200 jobs. Niche down. List 10 companies you’d like to get hired at. Do research, reach out to people who have the jobs you want, and network.

Easily applying is unfortunately not going to get you that far. Make a master resume with all your experience and skills and also a master cover letter that you can write ASAP once someone asks for it for a job. Seriously, networking and reaching out to hiring managers for 2 weeks has gotten me further than just clicking ‘Easy Apply’ during the summer for 2 months.

Also, shoot your shot in the DM of hiring managers and recruiters. If you are interested in a job that has Easy Apply and no option on their website, then message the person who posted the job. Just say you’re interested, your work experience, and that you would like to learn more.


14. Friendships are hard to maintain after college.

I actively tried to make more friends my senior year and hang out with my friends. The people who speak to me every day will go back home or across the country. You might not see them again for years or will make plans but will flop.

During your last year, value the friends that you have. Improve the friendships you already have so you have a better foundation for when college ends. Ask people to study together, go to events, eat out, or FaceTime. Value friendship now, but it’s hard to keep in contact after graduating.

2023 Update: Finding friendships in a new city is even harder. I moved away from home and my friends and spent most of my first year after graduating alone. I lived with family, but it was hard to meet new people at first. I recommend going to classes or getting to know people at your job that’s your age and asking them to hang out. The way I’ve met people was by joining organizations and clubs and reaching out to old classmates who live in my city.

15. Maintain relationships with old professors and your old bosses.

One thing that I am glad that I did was keep my old bosses and old professors’ numbers because of references. Yes, some jobs will ask you to give your old bosses’s numbers. Or maybe you’ll want to know how to find jobs in your field and need to contact your professors. Do not underestimate the power of networking and keeping up with your old bosses. Have it saved in your phone somewhere.

16. Your dream job isn’t going to come ASAP.

This one hurts the most for me. (For my astrology nerds out there, I’m a Capricorn sun and venus, okay?) I love working and I am career-driven. I knew I wasn’t going to be the president of a global music marketing department or get my own show to travel out the gate. BUT not getting a full-time role to help me towards my huge goals sucked. I planned all throughout college (until the pandemic) to be a content creator or social media manager for brands or music companies.

You will realize that it is going to take a while before you get your big goal. Sometimes you even get to the company that you have admiring for years and won’t like it. (I’m learned that at a horrible internship I had.) However, it also is good to use your current job to get you where you want to go. It’s just one step towards your dream job. Also, don’t underestimated yourself. I did that when I first started job hunting.

2023 Update: Even great jobs will even go away. Being laid off caught me off guard. I don’t really have a dream job anymore but more of a dream lifestyle. I want my work to feel less like work and it to simply fund my travel goals and business goals.

17. It’s okay to sleep in.

I know a mentioned earlier to not get too lazy, but get your rest on weekends. You don’t have to overwork yourself right after graduation. You don’t have to wake up super early anymore. It’s okay to wake up later. It’s okay to take naps. It’s fine.

18. Avoid companies who avoid pay and diversity but LOVE TO TALK ABOUT POOL TABLES.

As a BIPOC, I take diversity and inclusivity seriously. I also always ask about work culture and what is every interviewer’s favorite thing about working at the company.

I do not ask basic questions; I want to know the tea. I know that there are benefits. I want to know how it really is working there. Will I even have time to use the pool table?

Some companies will take advantage of recent grads because we’re hungry and eager to work. Be wary of applying to anywhere. Of course, don’t be too picky, but know your worth.

19. Interview companies; not the other way around.

Like in my last point, don’t let these companies walk all over you. You have to change your mindset. During your last year, work on your interview skills. Have questions to ask the hiring manager about the company and the work environment. The company is the one that needs to hire someone aka you.

In one interview I had, the director was laughing at something outside of their window during my question about diversity. (I also meant diversity outside of just race, btw.) But to laugh during a serious question when the interview was with 4-5 other people without any notice beforehand…It’s a no from me.  Thank God, I got turned down for the NEXT round after a month and a half of waiting just for an internship (not full-time either). If I got the internship, I would have felt uncomfortable.

In another interview, the lady didn’t even look at my social media presentation prior and cut me off midway.  A lot of people will smile in your face during the interview, then ghost you. Hiring managers will ignore you on LinkedIn. I got many more stories.

Don’t take rejections to heart; it’s just redirection.

2023 Update: Have your pen and paper ready just like them. Let them know that you’ll be taking notes during the interview, too. Look professional and be direct. Do not let these companies make you feel small. They are the ones looking for someone! This is the time to brag about your accomplishments.

20. Work on yourself.

You will spend a lot of time trying to adjust to a new lifestyle. You have to really work on yourself. Prioritize what you want. It will feel lonely sometimes, so be comfortable with solitude. Don’t take things at work personally. Learn how be confident. Read self-improvement book, such as 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think. Work on self-improvement now.

Related: How To Start a Self Love Journey

21. You got this.

Adulting is something I can’t avoid. Even though college was pretty simple due to its structure. We spend around 17 years of our lives in school and that’s all we know. In adult world, we’re just thrown in and got to learn how to roll with the punches.

Honestly, being an adult working full-time now isn’t as bad. It’s more responsibility and strict deadlines. College was way harder in my opinion. Graduating from college is a big accomplishment. It’s not one to downplay despite the job market not valuing degrees that much anymore. Yet, self-worth shouldn’t rely on jobs and productivity.

The main thing I wish I knew before graduating college was that I could do this and that I am capable of doing so much more.

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Hi, my name is Ariel. I like self care, Spanish guitars, boybands, and miss travelling. I also am writing a book...kinda. Welcome to my lifestyle blog.

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