Spoiler alert: the after (college) life does exist, and it’s called, drum roll… the real world. After four years (give or take a few) of nonstop studying, partying, studying, and more partying, the time eventually comes to trade in the textbooks and light-up shot glasses for a serious dose of reality. But before you check yourself in on campus as the new, perpetual Van Wilder, we recommend thinking again—the glory days aren’t officially kaput yet. There’s always a silver lining (or 17). In the wise words of Alice Cooper, school’s out forever!
1. Bye-bye, textbooks. Remember how you spent about a gazillion dollars (but actually) on books that you wouldn’t crack open until that last week of the semester? Well, those days are over. Lucky for you, the real world is an “experiences” kind of place, so you won’t necessarily be finding the answers to life in an overpriced book.
2. And hello, leisurely reading! Got a stack of books that have been piling up since you graduated high school? Or, are you not really a bookworm but want to test the waters by skimming the book your favorite movie was based on (The Great Gatsby, anyone?)? Whatever the case may be, now you actually have time to read… for fun. Reading boring, dry books isn’t something you have to do anymore. Instead, you can pick up a trashy beach read and not have to worry about writing a detailed analysis about the main characters’ love lives and what that means to the overall theme of the book.
3. Repeat after me: no more 30-page papers, no more 100-page reading assignments, no more lab quizzes, no more problem sets. No more homework. (Disclosure: you may have work to do for your job, but it’s completely different—and you’ll probably enjoy it a lot more than those general requirement courses you didn’t care about.)
4. If you think college guys are all that, just wait until you dive into the post-grad dating pool! Not only are there plenty more fish in the sea once you escape your college bubble, but they also just look hotter—we think it has something to do with the long working hours and professional attire. And although it’s not scientifically proven (yet), guys somehow mature (to an extent, of course) once they’re handed that coveted diploma. They’re no longer talking about how many beers they can chug in less than a minute or why their frat is the best on campus. Instead, these guys are tossing out words like “hedge fund” and “serious relationship.” We’ll take two, please!
5. You’re doing what you love. News flash: you just spent all that time, energy, and caffeine focusing on this funny little thing called your major. Now that you’re a pro and have the official B.A., B.S., B.B.A., etc., etc., it’s time to jump into the action. You no longer have to take two lab sciences just because. Instead, you can spend all your time, energy, and caffeine solely on what you love. And, on an even better note…
6. You’re getting paid to do it. It’s probably not a lot, but you’ve got to start somewhere.
7. No more dorms. Ahhhh. In comparison to what you’ve experienced for the last four years, you can finally live in peace. For starters, the chances of the elevators smelling like stale beer, Dominos delivery, and urine in your post-grad residence have decreased exponentially. On top of that, you won’t have to worry about stepping out into the hallway and into a pile of vomit (unless, of course, you’ve got neighbors who really can’t hold their alcohol). University police won’t be crashing your pregame looking for underage students, and bunk beds are a thing of the past.
8. You can sleep a little easier. Now that you’re out of the dorms (um, yes!) you’ll never have to encounter an inebriated freshman streaking through the hallways at 3 a.m. while screaming at the top of their lungs. You no longer have to be on edge waiting for the next drunk lunatic to bang on your door in the middle of the night looking for the wrong room. And Monday night pregames aren’t going to be all that popular in your new building, so you don’t have to worry about loud music—instead, you can catch up on those much-needed Z’s you missed out on in college.
9.Two words: big bed. Yes, that’s right, you no longer have to sleep in a twin XL—hallelujah! After a day at work, nothing is better than getting into a full, queen, or king bed and spreading your arms and legs out. Go ahead—roll around.
10. You have your own space. Remember freshman year when your university squeezed you into a “quad” that was really only meant for two people against your wishes? Or when you had to share a dorm room with that horrible girl who had zero manners or respect for your personal property? Well, in the real world, it’s your turn to make the decisions. You can choose who to live with, where to live, and how many of you will live in your place.
11. Mmm, food. No matter how gourmet your college caf may have been, the real world opens up so many more doors for dining. Of course, you can eat out as much as your heart (and wallet) desires, but even better—you have your own kitchen. It’s finally time to embrace your inner Julia Child and experiment with cooking. Once you become a pro, you can start hosting dinner parties—now that’s grown-up.
12. Weekends. In college you still had weekends, but what exactly were you doing on your days off? Wasting time on homework assignments, obviously. And if you weren’t hovering over a book or a paper in the library, you sure were stressing about upcoming assignments—due dates were always, always in the back of your head, getting closer by the second. But now your two days off are literally all about “you time.” If you wanted to watch endless episodes of Orange is the New Black on Netflix, be our guest and do so, because no one is going to stop you. And hey, why would they, anyway? It’s not like you’ve got a research paper to hand in any time soon.
13. You get to experience real nightlife. College bars are, of course, a memorable, interesting, and all-around good time. But after a few years, and especially once you’re a few years past 21, the idea of partying in a place that slyly accepts fake IDs isn’t exactly the coolest. In the post-grad life, we can embrace the places that are legitimately for those of us of age and meet people outside of our campus cliques.
14. People take you seriously. In the eyes of adults, you’re no longer another wild college kid who pulls all-nighters and lives in a bubble, because, guess what: you kind of are an adult now. “College graduate” even sounds more prestigious rolling off the tongue than “student.”
15. Every day can be your own fashion show if you want it to be. Going to class in a nice outfit—or at least looking slightly presentable—made you look like you were trying way to hard when everyone else was in their finest sweats and workout clothes. But now, you’re free to dress up whenever you want. You can experiment with your own sense of style, and that also leads to an excuse to go shopping. Bonus: you’ll get to mingle with guys in suits at office happy hour. And really, who doesn’t love a good suit and tie—right, JT?
16. Bon Voyage! Since you’re not moving back to school come the end of August, you’re free to travel, no longer bound by the tight schedule of each semester. Of course, if you have a job, things may be a little different, but there are always vacation days (which you get paid for!). If you can, go backpacking through Europe, see the sights of the U.S., snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, or explore the Middle East. Your 20s are all about experiencing the world, so if you can do it, don’t let anything hold you back.
17. Most importantly, it’s the next stage of your life! We can’t hold on to college forever—it’s just not possible. We said goodbye to high school and moved on to bigger and better things, and now, the time has come to do it again. But this is only the beginning. You think college is the best time of your life? Just wait until you’ve mastered your 20s.