9 Big Deals in College That Don't Matter After Graduation

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When you're in college, it can feel like every day you're making multiple decisions a day, and that these decision will have a huge affect on your future post-graduation. In the midst of parties with friends, movie nights and lounging on campus, every collegiate knows there are times it feels like you're drowning in resposnibility. Your years in college go faster than you can imagine and really only make up a snippet of your whole life. Looking back, the things that cause the most stress on a daily basis in college aren’t as big of a deal as they seem at the time in the big picture of life. Here are nine things that don’t matter as much after college:

1. Your GPA

It’s the number your parents ask about during every holiday break. The number you’re frantically calculating at the end of each semester. The number that seems to go up .01 with every A, but drop monumentally after one low grade. It can feel like your GPA defines who you are and how “good” of a student you are in college. But guess what? Your college experience is about so much more than your GPA.

“We definitely look to see that a candidate has reached above a minimum GPA when reviewing resumes,” says Monica Grillo, an actuary and recruiter at GEICO in Maryland. “However, that is just to get your foot in the door; someone with more relevant experience or a better interview with a 3.2 GPA will most likely get the job over someone with a 3.6 GPA who doesn’t have the experience or mindset we’re looking for.” Although it may be more important if you are pursuing further education after college, the majority of industries do not care what your final GPA was. No one after graduation, such as your new friends or co-workers, is going to ask you what your college GPA was.

2. Your major

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, only 27 percent of college graduates in 2010 were working a job related to their major. Although you obviously chose your major because you are passionate about and skilled at the subject, the way that translates into a job may not be direct.

“I chose to be an English major my sophomore year of college because I enjoyed the subject in high school and loved to write,” says Hannah, a graduate from Duke University. “I’ve had friends from my major go into journalism, one works in government and I pursued law school. The skills you gained from your major classes, such as critical thinking and analyzing, and experiences your major gave you are what really matters after graduation.”

While the number one question you get during your four years may be what your major is employers care more about your real world experience. Don’t feel confined to a certain job position or career field just because it fits your major; apply to the jobs you are truly interested and explain to employers how the skills you learned through your major are applicable.

3. … And also your minor

“I decided to add a minor at the beginning of my senior year because I thought it would make me stand out and give me something extra,” said Rachel, who recently graduated from American University. “Looking back, I wish I had chosen a minor I was actually interested in, not just because I thought it would ‘look good’ on a resume. I don’t think it was personally worth it for me because I had such a heavy workload to finish the minor and missed out on some things my last year of college.”

Minors are similar to majors in that just having them listed on your transcript or resume won’t guarantee you a job. If you do declare a minor, meet with your advisor to make sure it’s something you can actually handle because the stress of trying to complete all the classes may not be really worth it later on.

4. What your social calendar looks like

Having a large and close social circle can feel essential for any collegiate. “Unfortunately, I started to separate from my group of best friends my last year of college,” said Cara, recent graduate of Central Florida University. “I focused on my academics, job and health to make up for my lack of social life, but I worried this meant I would never have an intimate group of friends again.”

If your social calendar in college wasn’t what you hoped it would be, that’s completely okay! Post-graduation can be a fresh start to make your social life whatever you want it to be and develop new friendships, whether you’re moving to a new town or starting off in a new office.

“Now one year out of college, I have a great social life with true friends that support me no matter what,” continued Cara. “I rarely think about the friends I lost.” Some people make friends in college that last for a lifetime, but if that’s not the case for you, there is no need to sweat it.

5. That one assignment you failed

It’s bound to happen at some point; you have four tests in one week and just don’t have time to study for one, your group doesn’t meet until the night before a presentation or that online quiz just completely slipped your mind. It can feel like failing one assignment in a class means you are doomed for the rest of the semester. Once you get over the initial shock of the bad grade (and maybe have a good cry, or engage in some retail therapy), it’s important to remember that not all hope is lost.

There is usually a more beneficial way to handle this situation that feels like the end of the world, such as meeting your teacher or putting in more effort for the next assignment. Each assignment in college may feel extremely important to you in the moment, but when you’re walking across the stage at graduation you most likely will not be thinking about that one “F.”

Related: 27 Books All New College Grads Should Read

6. Your “number”

The topic of sex is prominent on many college campuses, where the pressure lose your virginity or engage in casual sex can be intense. It may feel like you have to have the “perfect number” of past sexual partners that’s not too low or too high based on your peers’ behavior.

In general, people tend to mature as they get older and how many sexual partners you’ve had won’t matter (or shouldn’t!) to a potential partner in your 20s. So long as both partners are consenting and checked for STIs, your sexual history in college is irrelevant to your sexual behavior in the present.

7. Staying in on a weekend night

The FOMO can be real in college. Pressure to attend the best frat party or be seen at the most popular bar downtown may dictate your choices about your social life. If you decide to stay in this weekend to catch up on homework or sleep, you may miss the most epic party that everyone talks about forever, right? Post-college, it becomes easier to do what you really want to do socially, whether that’s sitting on your couch binge watching Real Housewives or hitting the town until the early morning hours. You realize that you’ll never regret following your gut instinct about how you really want to spend your time, and FOMO only really impacts you if you let it.

8. Dating someone significantly older/younger

Dating is hard enough without the unspoken rules related to age appropriateness. “When I started dating a sophomore at the beginning of my senior year, I definitely felt some judgment from my friends and family,” said Laura from Virginia Tech. “However, we had a lot in common, he was very mature and I reminded my parents that they actually have a six year age gap!” It may feel like you have to date within your own grade level in college, but in the real world age really is just a number. Try not to feel uncomfortable about dating someone older or younger if it’s truly the right person for you and you have similar values.

9. Taking an extra semester or year to graduate

“Taking an extra semester is one of the best decisions I ever made. There’s a stigma sometimes about not following the typical four year college plan and I’m so happy I didn’t,” said Kelley Krzynefski, who recently graduated from James Madison University. “Having an additional summer before senior year allowed me to have another internship opportunity. My manager really liked that I was going to be a December grad and able to start working before mid summer like most college hires. I was offered a full time job at the end of the summer to start in January!” Take a note from Kelley, and pitch your extra semester as an advantage in interviews.

You may be feeling left out or like you did something wrong when you see all the people you started college with taking graduation pictures in their cap and gowns and celebrating without you. However, everyone’s college careers look different, and in the long run taking more time to figure out what you want to do will not hinder you in any way.

Some of the choices you make in college, and their inevitable outcomes, will feel life altering in the moment. With the weight of adulthood and the future on your shoulders, situations can feel all the more heightened and dramatic. But some of the biggest decisions and challenges you’ll face in college will feel so much less important as soon as you throw your graduation cap in the air. In the future, you’ll be able to look back and smile at the best moments, and appreciate that you made it through the hard moments, becoming a better person in the end.

About The Author

JMU alumni making her way into the "real" world. Passion for spending time with my large Italian family, running and eating any and all desserts I can get my hands on.

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