What to Expect in Your First Year as a Graduate

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No matter how prepared a new graduate is, the first year or two following college is almost designed to be a tumultuous time. For many graduates, the year post-graduation is the first year they have ever been totally independent. For others, and especially in today’s challenging job market, they may graduate only to find themselves living back at home in their old bedroom, still dependent upon their parents for support until they find a job.

Navigating First Year As A Graduate

Others, however, see graduation from college as a cue to marry their college sweetheart and begin family planning, even as they just get their feet wet in the job market. Some graduates will wake up a month after graduation and find themselves living in a new city, having to learn their way to the grocery store at the same time they learn how to navigate the Monday morning sales meetings.

No matter how you slice it, the first year after graduation, in particular, is going to be an interesting ride. Learn here how to best prepare for a year like you have likely never had before in your life – and never will again.

Be Realistic

The number one predictor of success in the first year following graduation from college is to be realistic about your goals. If you are like most graduates, your priorities will necessarily revolve around finding a job, beginning to make payments on student loans, getting settled in a place of your own (possibly in a new city) and getting used to your new work schedule. None of these elements on their own will likely cause an undue amount of stress, but when combined together, it is understandable that your stress level may be heightened for a time in a way you haven’t experienced before. So be realistic; don’t push yourself to get a promotion or pay off your student loans in that first year. Don’t expect to have the same kind of lifestyle that your older relatives or colleagues enjoy right away. It takes time to get financially and professionally settled, so be sure to give yourself the first couple of years after graduation to explore all of your options. Take these factors into consideration:

  • Your possible interest in going back for an advanced degree.
  • The level of satisfaction with the career you chose or the facet of your field that you are working in
  • Your feelings about the city you live in and other various elements.

Remember:  it’s not just your career choices alone that contribute to your overall quality of life.

If you do find that you are not enjoying your field and you want to return for an advanced degree, it’s important to remember that many Master’s programs are now offered online. So if you want to get more education in the field of management, for instance, you can take a Master of Science in Management online and this will allow you to continue working part- or full-time during the day.

Take Care of Business

Beyond being realistic about what you can accomplish, the other important element to not just surviving, but thriving in your first few years out of college is to take care of business, so to speak. Little neglected things, such as student loan payments, starting to save for the future, continuing to assess the job market and apply for other positions within your company or at other firms can quickly add up to big things if you do not take care of them. If you are struggling to find a job you can enjoy and the bills are piling up, then that is a priority.

You might have several options, including brushing up on your interviewing skills, signing on with a recruiter to help market you to employers, returning for an advanced degree in your field or, if necessary, applying for a deferment or forbearance on your student loan payments . Graduating from college is a sign that you have matured and have made your rite of passage into the world of independent living. However, this does not mean you won’t struggle or need help from others, especially during the first few years. So be realistic, take care of business and ask for help when it’s necessary, and just take it step-by-step and you will come through successfully.


Roger Concelra graduated with his Bachelor’s degree and decided to take some time away from school before returning to get his graduate degree. He is currently pursuing his masters of public administration online after spending three years in the workforce.

1 Comment

  • My first year as a college graduate was a whirlwind experience, to say the least. It’s not something I’d ever want to repeat.