The end of university hangover is finally beginning to settle for me. I graduated in the summer of 2016 and now that era of my life is far enough away, I can confirm two things in retrospect. Firstly, university really is great so long as you’re lucky with your friends and you embrace as much as you can while you’re there. Secondly, whilst university is an education, it doesn’t necessarily teach you some important lessons that are valuable for life after university. So, for the benefit of current students and for the reminder of graduates, here’s a list of a few hard truths that university won’t teach you.
- You will have to pay for your rent – Yes, I know it seems obvious, but when the government has been paying for your accommodation for the last three years, it’s easy to forget that at some point you’re going to have to pay for it yourself. Witnessing a third or more of your menial graduate income going towards rent isn’t an easy thing to watch for the first few months.
- Job-hunting isn’t always easy – If I could count all the times I’ve been rejected from a job on one hand, I would probably need to call a doctor. Whilst you may think your 2:1 in that second year international relations module makes you the perfect ambassador for Unicef, chances are they probably don’t feel the same way! Be prepared for the fact not every organisation is going to want to employ you and don’t be too hard on yourself.
- Your degree won’t always be relevant to your job – I found myself in a marketing internship within an international warranty provider and had a great time. Funnily enough, my philosophy dissertation on why we should treat all organisms as beings with intrinsic value was of absolutely no use.
- You can’t go out clubbing on weeknights – Well, you can, but you’ll most likely be sacked. At university, it was fine to barely function the next day and turn up to one lecture late in the afternoon. At work you will be expected to spend eight or more hours of the day labouring away, unfortunately this work ethic is not conducive with heavy, late nights.
- Your parents probably won’t give you money – You’re an adult now. You’re not in school, college or university. There is really nothing for you to do but start to earn a living. Whilst some parents may have given their children money or the odd grocery shop during university, most parents feel their favourite graduates are going to have to start providing for themselves.
- You will have less free time – At university you have a lot of free time; when you start working you will have a lot less of it. Somewhere in between work, the commute and the extra hours your boss expects you to put in, you have a few less hours a week to just do you. That just means you have to spend them wisely, i.e. not binge-watch Netflix’s latest original series.
- The world of work isn’t as liberal as university –Whether it’s fighting for climate change or debating, with very blood-shot eyes, why we should all be vegans; university usually teaches people to think very liberally. At work, there aren’t young idealistic teenagers who share your views, prepare yourself for some very different and often shocking opinions from older generations!
Apologies if that’s all been a bit negative! However, this list doesn’t necessarily have to be a demoralising slap in the face. If you’re still an undergraduate make sure you use this as an incentive to make the most of your time left at university. If you’re a graduate, these truths needn’t be a bad thing either. You can still relish the time you have after university even if it seems a little bit harder getting by.