True Life: I Wish I’d Known This When I Graduated College…

May 23, 2013  |  
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Did you just graduate college or will you graduate soon? Well, listen up love this right here’s for YOU. We spoke to the wise women on our Facebook and Twitter pages to find out what they wish they knew about the “real world’ before they graduated from college. (Some took offense to the term real world; but truth be told, for most college students, college provides an escape from “real world” responsibilities. So we think it’s applicable.) Either way, if you want an accurate picture of what you’re in for, check out some of the wisdom our followers have to share.


Kiri: That you should risk big now because you won’t be able to recover as easily from big mistakes later.

Franchesca: Some people never mentally leave high school and too often you end up working for them.


Zinobia: A expensive degree doesn’t equal a high paying job!

Sankaya: There are no short cuts to success. If you don’t grind, you don’t eat! Nothing is handed to you. Also, with loans, don’t take out more than you need. Sallie Mae is the devil! Lol

Source: iStock


Flavia: Take advantage of the cooperative education (Co-op) programs at your school while you have the chance. It will be much harder for you to land a nice job after you graduate if the only job experience you have is working customer service at McDonald’s. It doesn’t even have to be a job that is directly related to your field. Any full-time office job where you are earning a salary rather than an hourly wage will give you a leg up in the real world after you graduate.

In addition, your work experience with these companies counts as training, so if you make a good impression, often these companies will hire you right away after graduation cause they know that they will not have to spend extra time training you like they would a brand new employee.


Lonnie: I wish I had been told to pay credit cards off at the end of every month and also that taking 12-15 courses per semester will not only help you graduate sooner but keep down the cost of student loans. These are all things I learned after the damage had been done. So I just graduated college with some debt that could have been avoided had I known the proper way to handle it. Lesson Learned and shared with other students of course!

Source: Shutterstock

LaWanda: That’s it’s not good not to work for 4 years just because you’re in school, even if you don’t have to. Get some type of experience that will make the path toward the job you want after school easier.

Source: Shutterstock

Lori: Even with a college degree, 90% of what you do in your career will require on-the-job training.

2 – Do NOT go into the workforce thinking you know more than the people who have been there for years. Get a “seasoned” employee to mentor you, then perfect your skills.


Esta: Your social circle will quickly dwindle. This is both good and bad.


Natoya: Education will only take you so far, you really have to grind, network and think outside the box. Networking and A$$-kissing are not the same thing. You have to be a jack-of-all trades: Know a little bit about everything; try to make it so that no one can do your job , but you.

Source: Shutterstock

And because one of our readers said all the other comments and pieces of advice were depressing her, I saved the most optimistic comment for last.
Grace: Never give up on your goals stay focused and let God handle the small stuff.

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  • scandalous7

    Graduating this year …..and I have extreme anxiety……what a combination..idk if I can even make it through in all honesty. Need prayer man.

  • ms. lisa

    i wished i would have known that unless you’re going 2 college 2b a nurse,doctor,engineer, or lawyer, college is a waist of time and money.

  • pickneychile

    There are still times to this day (a few years after graduating) that I feel my degree was useless. Even though I’m working and doing okay, the way I got in this company was through nepotism! It had nothing to do with what I studied and where. The experiences I had in college are priceless…the education, not so much. Sallie Mae has a way of reminding me of this every month.

  • OliveValleydotnet

    1. I wish I had known that college wasn’t the end-all-be-all path to success. (My high school counselors failed us.) I should have gone to a trade/technical school instead of a 4 year university. If I had taken that route I would have gained more career related knowledge and experience in a shorter amount of time with a less expensive bill.
    2. Student loans should be an absolute LAST resort.

  • Tiffany Thomas

    I wish I knew – go into a major where you can earn a license (teaching,
    nursing, physical therapy, sonographer technician, information tech/ comp sci
    etc) –

    – if you live in the city with civil service jobs start
    taking those test by junior year by time they call you would have earned 1 of
    the min req: a degree, and have a job ready for you right out of college –

    – don’t overlook community colleges; with the cost of
    college, CC may be the best Financial Return for your money –
    many offer degrees that lead to certification in high demand fields like
    (medical, technology, health care, STEM fields (science, techno, engineer,

    – If your only accomplishment is just graduating then you
    will have a hard time in this job market – Work on earning a 3.5-4.0 GPA,
    internships, organization involvement, working/volunteering, and networking is
    what’s going to help you stand out from the 1000’s of other grads looking
    for jobs out of college.

    – If you are struggling just get C’s & B’s you need
    to re-evaluate your goals – cuz you are surely going to resent having spent 4 yrs.
    and 10’s of thousands of dollars for school. Get tutoring, lighten your course
    loan, just bcuz u know someone taking 7 classes with straight A’s per semester
    does not mean u should, you may need to take 4 classes and go to summer school
    or take the 5 year plan (which seems like forever when you want to graduate)…

    – You don’t want to end up 30 thinking how did I end up
    at this mediocre job barely making ends meet. Those years between 18-21 are
    critical to your financial career and will affect other aspects of your life
    directly or indirectly

    – If you already graduated take those Civil service exams
    (regardless of fees involved) and get the tutorial from your local library to
    prepare to Ace that exam.

    – My husband only has an Associate and went the civil
    service route and in 6 years got 4 promotions which came with raises earning
    more than most college grades w/ Master’s.

    – I earned my Bachelors relied on resume based employment
    and in 6 years only attained entry level management jobs only earning the what
    those out of High Sch. with work exp would earn. I wish I knew…

    – The moral of this long story is take time to plan…it
    may require not hanging out , shopping, doing fun things with your friends, but
    learn to think critically, strategically, and objectively about your
    college/career choices…something many of us don’t learn in HS/college but makes
    all the difference.. I hope this helps
    those still in college and those looking to go back or make a career change.
    God bless.

    • MLS2698

      You need to write a book on this subject. You seem so knowledgeable!

  • mark

    Are you supposed to do research before…. ?

  • Jada

    I just graduated from the University of Alabama and I’m having a hard time finding a job as well. You would think that after 4 long,torturing years of studying, involvement on campus and a school name like THE UNIVERSITY of ALABAMA would mean something…nope! It will get better though, we have to keep the faith! One day we will all sit back and laugh at this 🙂

    • Kellz

      Roll tide!!!! My mom graduated in ’75 and got a great job in 6 months!?!?!! Im always jealous of how diff it was back then. Theres more competition

  • sabrina

    I would have to disagree with some of these commenters — going to college is NOT a complete waste of time. At least, it wasn’t for me! Aside from the experiences gained, the life lessons learned, the friends made, and even some of the academics, being enrolled in college was a must for the internships I secured. And in the field in which I work (TV Production), the college that you attended will come up in conversations frequently (including interviews), and this is where some bonds may start to form. Moreover, the alumni from your college are usually more than happy to put you on whenever they can — regardless of if they know you personally or not.

    However, Sallie Mae and those federal loans are the devil!!! They are manageable though. Super annoying, but manageable nonetheless.

    • ToyaSharee

      I agree with all of this. I understand everyone’s got to live, but college isn’t just about getting a job, it’s about being educated for the sake of being educated. I hate to be discriminatory, but sometimes black people think college is only about getting a job and when that doesn’t happen it’s like, “It was a waste of time.” I notice other cultures don’t think like this. How about being a well-rounded person, a critical thinker, being well-versed on a variety of subjects?

  • brooklynarcher89

    I just graduated from college and I’m not gonna lie, it’s rough. Although I agree with other commenters about the importance of networking, I think it’s a little harsh to say college is a waste of time. I see so many people attend college and invest more in the social life rather than their academics. I’ve also seen so many people completely immerse themselves in their academics and don’t socialize at all. I say that to say college is more than just social life or just school. A person should invest in internships, attend seminars, network at conferences as well as stay on top of their studies and social life (which could be valuable networking) . I feel that during the senior year in high school, there should be some type of transition discussion to the college world. Other than that, you really are at the mercy of employers. Keep grinding and definitely make sure you stay in contact with the student loans people cuz they’re not going anywhere. Good luck!

  • Kenedy

    My advice would be this…unless you want to be a doctor, or a specialized healthcare profession, and maybe an attorney, for all other careers, degrees are useless. Its important who you know, in order to get your foot into some company and start building experience. Even though internships are modern day slavery, work for no pay, a lot of them turn out to be way more useful than a degree. If I had known, I would have gotten a load of internships straight out of high school, instead of attending college.

    • ..

      not all internships are non-paid. Matter of fact, i don’t even think most are.

  • micmcna

    OK, here is the real truth about college and the education system as a whole. The truth is that going to college the traditional way is a WASTE OF TIME. 90% of the jobs you will get in this like (that you actually enjoy doing) will be gotten off of who you know. This includes both outer-company and inner-company networking that builds relationships. Colleges didn’t fully teach you about any one subject. Instead, you shoud focus on trade schools and building a skill. This whole thing about you’ll earn more over a lifetime than someone without a degree is actually false. You earn more not by your educational level (unless it is highly specialized) but again by who you know and your attitude in your work environment. This especially applies to hard economic times as most companies (regardless of how irreplaceable you think you’ve made yourself) get rid of the people they don’t like. That’s just how it is. And also they tend not to calculate in the career change years when you maybe have to take a lower paying job because you want a change in career. That adjusts that income over a lifetime. The smartest thing to do would be to get a job (no not even a good one, it can be a fast food place) right out of high school where you commit yourself to it and you work your way up, networking all along the way until you’ve reached some form of management. From there, most companies these days will pay or subsidize more education for you as they see you as a valuable asset. Then have them pay for your education (or at least a portion of it), while still working full-time. By the time your peers have graduated, you will not only have 4 years experience in the workforce, but you will be working on a degree just as they did and might even be their boss when they come looking for work because they are unable to quickly find a good-paying job in the first year after college.

    • You do give a different path that works. Really my advice is to those going into college is to research and find a degree that is going to equal $ and that is in demand. Something that will afford you a comfortable lifestyle while you are paying off student loan debt. I was lucky, my parents planned for and paid for my education so I didn’t have the debt a lot of my classmates did including my husband. I STILL worked all throughout college and landed a job most people would not have gotten straight out of school.

  • UB class of 2013

    Yep I just graduated a week ago from College. Now here comes the hard part finding a job *sigh*. I’m not expecting a high paying job because I know I have to start somewhere/ “paying my dues”. However, sometimes I feel college was a waste of my time.


    Even though you are black and graduated, you are still black. I should hv gone to a trade school instead. Not too late tho

    • Na Na

      What college taught me was me. I learned so much about myself, and how to PROPERLY function on my own. I think college is one of the rare places where you can take on adult responsibilities and fail and still be ok. So by the time you actually graduate you know so much about relationships, how to read people, how to network, how to finesse (Hi Office of Financial Aid) and get what you need. Its def a life changing experience.