Adulting 101 – What College May Not Have Prepared You For

Graduation is right around the corner and  “adulting” is now here. If you’re an undecided college senior and are walking across the stage without set plans, don’t worry! Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Oprah Winfrey are a few examples of people who didn’t complete college and are now very successful professionals. You’re going to have something they don’t – a college degree, which automatically places you ahead of the pack!

Amid your millennial peers who are posting about their upcoming place of employment on social media and their new journey, your current state of not knowing what you’re doing next may become overwhelming. Consider the following tips to give you a little peace of mind and ease your post-baccalaureate worries:

  1. Avoid Comparisons

A pivotal moment that defines a college graduate after comparing yourself to your peers is how you react to it – is it going to motivate you or discourage you? Just because you didn’t land your dream job yet, doesn’t mean you didn’t deserve it – simply, your time has not come yet. More than likely the people you’re comparing yourself to have different majors and life experiences. In fact, think about when you were a high school senior and how many people didn’t know what college they were attending shortly prior to graduation. Remember, the only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.

  1. Postponing Grad School? Taking a Gap Year? No Problem!

Only about 16% of undergraduate students immediately continue their education by enrolling in graduate school and 88% of gap year graduates report that their gap year had significantly added to their employability. So, improving and adding to your skill set in the meantime is important; which can be done through work experience or volunteering. Consider programs and opportunities to be a better applicant like Peace Corps and Teach For America, that are excellent ways to make a difference, and grow individually.

  1. Home is Where the Heart Is

Being home means answering the same “so what are you doing now” question to every single relative, yet it doesn’t have to be a shame to respond that you’re still deciding on the best opportunity. In 2016, about 36% of graduating seniors planned to live at home at least a year or more after graduation.

Use this time wisely by:

  • Networking and keeping in touch with your professors
  • Applying to jobs that match your skill set
  • Updating your LinkedIn with new skills
  • Studying for the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, or MCAT
  • Considering online graduate programs
  • Start saving money and become financially independent after graduation

Ultimately, take advantage of this time to find your passion and determine what you truly want. You’re graduated, but that definitely doesn’t mean you need to have everything in order.  Remember to be patient because there’s no set timeline for life. As long as you do what makes you happy, you’re far better off than settling for something you don’t like.

Keep Doing You!


Sharon Schweitzer co-wrote this post with Paola Guevara. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

Paola Guevara is a Spring 2017 Cross-Cultural Communication intern with Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. She’s lived in Mexico, France, and different states throughout the United States, including California, Florida, and Texas. She currently attends St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas studying International Business with a focus in French. Connect with her via  Linkedin.

Photo By: Unsplash