How to survive the post-college, real life shock

Finals are over, you’ve walked at Commencement and you’re finally free to live life the way you want to! What should you, and other graduating seniors, do first?

Read a book. Graduating seniors aren’t exactly going out into the “real world” unprepared, but most will still have burning questions that need to be answered eventually.

Graphic by Corey Beaudrie

Gradspot.com is a website geared towards helping college graduates get themselves set-up and functioning once they’re finished with school; the topics and how-to guides on the site range from finding a job, finding affordable housing, staying (or becoming) healthy and finding a reasonable vehicle.

And now Gradspot has a book that condenses all of that knowledge into one $14.95 package: Gradspot.com’s Guide to Life After College. This book offers 371 pages of advice to floundering graduates who have no idea what they’re doing.

The book is set up to humor the reader while taking him or her through several topics, much like the ‘For Dummies’ series of books.

TNL’s pick of top ten tips from the book should help seniors at least to get their feet on the ground.

1. Continue to use your student ID after graduation. Many stores and restaurants offer discounts to college students, and don’t forget the free People Mover rides. Using your ID after graduation may be immoral, but you’ll likely have less money then than you did while in school, and need the discounts more. It’s survival of the smartest out there, and besides, the ID will wear out and be unusable soon enough, and then that trick will be void. Use it while you can.

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2. Clean up your online identity. Scan your Facebook profile page for risque or otherwise inappropriate photos, insensitive comments or questionable affiliations. Once you find them, either delete the content or alter your privacy settings. Potential employers scan Facebook and other social media websites when attempting to choose between candidates, so make yourself look better by either deleting or hiding anything that you think might hinder your chances of landing a job.

3. Ask questions during an interview. Potential employers want to know that you honestly want to work for them; prove it by researching the company before you go in for an interview and asking informed questions. Good starters include “What is the most rewarding thing about working here,” “How is success measured” and “What are the organization’s plans for change and/or growth in the future?”

4. Don’t be overly choosy with your first out-of-school job. The odds are good that there are dozens of people, if not more, who are just as or more highly qualified than you for whatever job you’re looking for. Go ahead and apply for and pursue your dream job, but know that sometimes you have to settle. Don’t necessarily take the first job offered to you, but don’t be afraid of working in a retail shop, at a coffee stand or as a waiter for a while. The important thing is to have a steady income that can sustain you while you pursue the career you really want. If you’re too picky, you could wind up jobless and in debt.

5. Speaking of debt, research your student debt in the six months prior to when you are required to start making payments. There are options for reduced payments out there that you could qualify for. Not only is there the consolidation option, allowing for lower monthly payments, but in extreme cases, (such as owing more a month than you make in a month,) you can be eligible for direct help by the government. Be careful though, there are always strings attached.

6. Get a credit card. Owning and making payments on a credit card earns credit. Even if you only spend $1 a month and repay that $1 on or before the payment due date, you are earning good credit. Good credit scores are important for renting apartments, housing, purchasing a vehicle or obtaining a future loan. Be careful not to overspend, however. Set a limit for yourself and adhere to it.

7. Negotiate your rent. There are times when it is certainly possible to negotiate with your landlord, or potential landlord, for a lower monthly rent, especially in larger apartment buildings. Find out how long the apartment has been available. If it has been open for a long period of time, (a few months,) inquire about a slightly lower rate. In the end, landlords are in the business to make money, and a tenant who pays something earns the landlord more money than no tenant at all. If you already live in an apartment, wait until the lease is up and the time comes to renew it. Ask your landlord about the possibility of him or her not increasing your rent, and where applicable, point out what a great tenant you’ve been.

8. Eat healthy. Food costs a lot of money, especially in Alaska, but there are still ways to eat a balanced meal on a budget. There are hundreds of recipe sites online that offer tips on cheap cooking, and some are health conscious. Gradspot.com for instance, offers a bunch of recipes for under $20 that yield two or more servings.

9. Get health insurance. There are options for affordable health insurance if your job doesn’t provide it. There are even temporary insurance options if you are specifically looking for a job that offers benefits. If you’re in the market, talk to your parents about paying to stay on their plan for a few more years. You can also talk to the alumni association for information on their recommended plans for graduates.

10. Consider graduate school. You may be completely ready to wash your hands of secondary education, but statistics continually show that the higher your level of education, the more money you make in your lifetime. Also, while you are enrolled in school, you have the option to defer loan payments until after you graduate – again. Sure, you’ll have more money to pay back in the long run, but you’ll be a more marketable individual in a much better position to get into the career of your dreams, which in turn, will help you repay your debt.