With graduation comes the thrill of never having to write another term paper or cram for final exams again. But that fateful day also seems to signal the end of your participation in the activities outside the classroom that you enjoyed for four years. Fortunately, getting your degree doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to kiss your favorite pastimes goodbye, because you can pursue so many of them in the real world. Here’s what to do if you…
…played a sport but didn’t get recruited for the big leagues:
Don’t worry; you’re not permanently benched. Whether you started on a Division 1 team or stepped in as the Snitch for the annual Quidditch tournament, there are plenty of opportunities to stay active and find the team camaraderie you’re missing in the real world. To start, you can use your network of college friends to join in with their athletic after-work outings.
“I played Ultimate Frisbee with my current roommate in college. She graduated a few years before me and played for a while in the city, so she suggested a summer league to me,” says Emily Brower, a 2014 Union College graduate and a member of the Ultimate Frisbee team as a student. “It was low cost and low commitment and would help me meet some awesome people and introduce me to a greater community if I decided I wanted to play more seriously in the future. Being in a new city can be hard, but I've been able to meet some great people and establish some consistency (and get outside) by playing each week.”
If you belong to a gym, ask about group classes or team sport offerings, both of which are great ways to get to know new people and stay in shape. You may even discover a new sport that you love!
…joined a sorority but weren’t chosen to stay on as House Mom:
Most workplaces don’t recognize “Wear Your Letters Wednesday” as a legitimate weekly holiday, so you’ll have to find other ways to share your sorority pride. Luckily, most Panhellenic sororities have alumnae chapters in major cities or schools, so you can easily connect with other graduated sisters in the area. Check out your sorority’s national website to find contact information for alumnae chapters near you.
“I got involved with the local alumnae chapter by participating in fundraisers and doing community service in the local area,” says Charlotte Lehman, a 2014 Union College graduate and sister of Gamma Phi Beta. “I also was able to help out during the local collegiate chapter's recruitment and make new friends of all ages!”
Sorority involvement in college can help you find community service opportunities after graduating, too. If you’re missing taking part in your chapter’s philanthropy events, go straight to the source: reach out to your sorority’s chosen philanthropic organization and ask how you can help out.
…starred in every school production but have yet to win a Tony:
Your school’s alumni network can be particularly helpful here. You may not be ready or willing to move to New York and just hope that one of your auditions takes, but since theater straddles the line between academic discipline and extracurricular activity, you can likely search your college alumni database for former drama students and connect with them. Even if these alumni haven’t pursued acting as a career, they may have kept up with the craft through community theater, improv troupes or other performing arts venues that you can join as well.
…wrote for the campus newspaper but didn’t get an offer from the New York Times:
You may not get the rush of seeing your name in print, but setting up your own blog allows you to pursue the passion for writing and editing you developed after so many late nights in the campus newsroom. Sites like WordPress are user-friendly and provide you with an outlet for your thoughts.
Chances are, you aren’t the only one missing having a group of people who share your love for the written word. As with any of these activities, it’s important to seek out a community of people who share your interests and pursue them together.
“I got involved in my local literary center, where I work a few hours each week in exchange for writing classes that have allowed me to explore media outside of reporting, where I also get the opportunity to critique and edit other writers’ work,” says Brower. “I also recently reunited with one of my co-editors from college, and we critique each other’s work once a week. It was hard for me to leave the community of writers and editors I worked with on the school paper, but it was important to me to find a similar outlet for my creativity after graduation.”
Additionally, a lot of established online publications (like Her Campus, for example!) will publish work by contributing or freelance writers. If there’s a site you visit frequently, reach out to the editors with your pitches.
…led the campus Democrats or Republicans but aren’t eligible to run in 2016:
Is there a cause or issue you’re particularly passionate about? A politician whom you’d like to see run the world? Reach out. These people and organizations almost certainly have information on their websites about how you can volunteer your time. There is no limit to the ways in which you can get involved, even if you’re simply distributing campaign materials for a candidate you support. Your alumni database or former professors may be of help here, too, since you can easily look up if anyone from your college has gone on to work in government in some capacity. They’ll appreciate the help and connect you with a network of people who share your worldview.
Though it might be tempting to come home and binge watch the new season of Orange is the New Black after work every day, it’s important to remember that even though you have graduated, you can still push yourself to stay involved in the activities that fulfilled you as a collegiette. Doing so can help you acclimate to a new environment by introducing you to new people, keep your brain and body active and bring you the personal satisfaction that your entry-level job may not necessarily provide.