Flat design, vector illustration of Poor man lying on the couch and dreaming.

In a Facebook Live at the end of October, we discussed the differences between college and the real-world, in hopes to help future graduates transition. Have you ever had a discussion, only to think of more and better points after the fact? Well, that happened to me. So I, Louie, would like to add to the discussion and further explain the differences and similarities I’ve noticed in my first six months in the real world.

Your network becomes more diverse

The majority of the people you meet in college are the same age and in the situation. Their top priorities are school, a part-time job, campus groups, and socializing. Much of these overlap.

This is not the case after you leave school. You mix and mingle with co-workers and colleagues of all ages and backgrounds, with different sets of priorities. Some have children to take care of, others have different lifestyles outside of work, and all of it can trickle into their work life. Understanding the perspectives and priorities your coworkers come from will only make you a better coworker.

Pro-tip: Your colleagues can teach you things schooling simply can’t. Many grew up in different generations with different experiences. My mom witnessed the advent of the internet and the first space shuttle, my generation saw the rise and fall of CDs, school-age kids probably have no idea what life was like before iPads. Humans learn through experience and your elder coworkers can teach you great insights molded through life-experiences.

Bottom lines matter

Group projects mattered in college, but they REALLY matter in the real world. If you failed a group project in college, the worst outcome was a bad grade, you could make up for it.

Real-world group projects have a bottom line attached to them. Like what was said in a previous paragraph, your coworkers might have a family to take care of. A hiccup can hold a lot of people back, as well as the business. They can’t just meet up at the library at 11 pm with an expresso to make up for it. But the accountability will make you better.

College does teach you tools to succeed

College has come under fire in recent years largely due to the immense amount of student loan debt in the country—is college really worth it?

I love this question. Because it’s so worth it.

College teaches you more than you realize, even outside of the classroom. There’s a reason the NFL, NBA, and WNBA have preseason games and training camps—it helps them discover their identity and how the athletes click. College is like a 4 year preseason to the workforce. You harness your skills and passions with minimal repercussions. At the very least, you learn how to communicate with diverse groups, manage chemistries with roommates and group projects, and you must hold yourself accountable to succeed.

One major thing I realized in college is it teaches you how to think. Not what to think, like liberal or conservative, but how to actually weigh and analyze your options to make the best decision—pure critical thinking. I truly wish colleges gave every student a pre and post-test to assess critical thinking, allowing people to truly see how their thought processes changed during that chapter of their life.

Plus, it also teaches you an entire field of study that you will bring to the workforce.

Debt is horrible, but there are smart ways to handle it. I don’t have the word count to elaborate, so I’ll drop Malcolm Gladwell’s “Big Fish Small Pond” theory.

But you never stop learning

The learning never stops, especially if you want to thrive in your industry. College gives you the skills to start a job, but not what you need to make it to retirement. The world moves at lightning speeds. You are bound to get left behind if you don’t keep up.

You will probably have more time

College requires you to work a part-time job and an internship, all while studying and going to school full-time. That’s probably more than 40 hours a week. Time is just displaced after graduation. You won’t be on your couch at 11 am every Tuesday and Thursday, but you also won’t be studying 4 to 5 hours every evening.

You’ll be fine

The transition from college to the workforce is one of the biggest you’ll ever make, which is the actual reason you’re worried—you just mask it with the idea that you lack skill. But trust me on this…you WILL be okay!

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