It’s been an entire year since I walked down the corridor of the chapel in my university, with my (slightly too big) cap bobbing up and down on my head and the permanent fear that I would fall or throw up or do anything terribly embarrassing.
An entire twelve months. Though it feels like an entire lifetime ago. In that time I’ve had two full-time jobs, I’ve moved house, I started blogging properly again, I started running again, I stopped writing (I’m a little sad about this one)…and then I started writing again (yay!), I made new friends, I lost old ones, I survived one of the worst days of my life and I’ve smiled through some of the best. It’s been a whirlwind and you can imagine I’ve learned a lot. Who am I to keep those lessons to myself?
So here we go. Ten things that graduate life has taught me ….(so far).
1. Your grade doesn’t matter 👩🎓
Thought I’d start with a controversial one! In the last few months of uni I worked tirelessly to try to get a first. I was a little disappointed when I only got a 2:1, but luckily I was already in my first full-time job when I found out my grade. That’s right – my employers didn’t care whether I edged over into the next class or not. They didn’t hire me for the sake of a point or two.
I know not everyone is this lucky and I know that it does seem that the higher your grade, the more opportunities you have. In some situations, I would say that’s absolutely the case. But… it’s not the case for a lot of people. Employers want to see “the whole package”, your personality, your ability to work in whatever situations you might find yourself in (e.g. Time pressure, collaboration etc), your skills in the job, the way you handle life in general (which tends to be a direct result from your university experience anyway). Your grade actually forms a pretty small part of it all.
And once you’ve secured your first role, the experience you’ve got there becomes orders of magnitude more important than a piece of paper declaring that you got a first, second or third class degree.
The way I see it now is this: your grade is only important for yourself.
2. No more student perks 😢
Council Tax. Ok so I know that it’s going towards things to help out your council which does in turn help you (I hope)…but it’s the most painful thing about not being a student anymore. You don’t understand until you’ve gotta do it!
Actually … no it’s not the most painful thing. The most painful thing is the lack of student discounts. Handing over my card and thinking about the 70p I might have saved is just sad. SO SAD.
3. Time is precious ⏱
There is a huge difference between spare time at university and spare time in a full-time job.
Personally, I found that my time at university was often eaten up with that ‘I should be doing work‘ feeling constantly in the back of my mind, so I never really spent the time relaxing and just enjoying myself. When Christmas came and I found myself spending time with family rather than locking myself in a room to work on an essay, I realised just how much pressure there is.
My spare time now is truly ‘me time’. So it’s sad I have far less of that time, but at least it’s spent well! (i.e. I can watch Netflix without feeling guilty).
4. You won’t stay in touch with everybody 👯
Your girls are not your girls. Ok so, I’ve stayed in touch with a wonderful bunch of people, but not all of those people are the ones I expected to maintain a relationship with after university. Much like high school, as soon as you spend time apart, you realise you’re not as close as you thought.
I don’t mean any of this in a horrible/negative way as I genuinely miss some of those people, but life happens and we don’t always get what we want. And also, you’ll probably have at least one great friend from uni by your side!
5. You’ll miss it. Every day. 🙇🏻♀️
To be honest I didn’t love the whole university experience. It was better than average but I am not desperate to return and do it all over again.
Yet, when I think about it, about my lectures and some of the cool stuff I did, I do miss it. There’s something really nice about being surrounded by people who all have the same dream as you and working as a team to produce your best work (maybe this is just the case for creative writing but it was cool). I’ve never felt so inspired and I loved that. I definitely miss that every day. I do get a bit nostalgic about it sometimes (as you can tell from one of my first posts on the blog! Advice for Freshers, from a nostalgic graduate).
6. Your student loan letter will be the heaviest piece of paper you’ll ever hold 💰
Following the end of the tax year, you’ll receive the first of your yearly statements informing you of how much you owe. Kindly broken down to show you how many thousands of pounds of interest have been added on to your already heart-stopping debt.
Try not to worry about it though. Put it back in the envelope and go grab yourself a slice of sad cake.
7. You’ll get jealous when you see people graduating 👀
I want to be you again. I can’t explain it, but graduation day was just the most amazing day, you can’t stop smiling and you’re just so proud and everyone is wandering around grinning and all of your family are there beaming too and it’s just mega emotional. It’s the kind of day you’d like to relive again and again.
8. Alumni events are the best 🙌🏻
I really recommend that you get involved in any of the alumni events at your uni! It gives you a little peek back into your student life but it also just makes you feel involved in something bigger.
It’s also a great way to keep in touch with old lecturers, acquaintances and sometimes they can be designed to help your future career. I went to one recently and walked away feeling totally inspired, which was great.
If nothing else, they bring you back to your student days and who doesn’t love to reminisce?
9. You’ll consider studying Post-Grad more than once 🤔
When you’ve had a long day at work, or you’re just tired and wish you could sleep in, or you miss the days where you could lay around for an entire day (guilty or not), you’ll think about going back to uni.
Maybe this is a slightly more specific one for myself, because I’m weird and I kind of like studying, but the idea of diving back into studies and specialising in something you’re passionate about is fab!
10. You’ll read through old work and be quite impressed 📖
The essays that took up so much of your time, that you swore you wouldn’t touch again, will actually impress you one day. You’ll be surprised by your own intelligent thoughts (or waffle – either way!) and you’ll even be tempted to write the random essay in your spare time.
…Or you’ll start a blog!
Have I missed any important lessons? Let me know!