No matter what kind of person you became after college, chances are you’ve caught yourself thinking back on those college days. But never fear! Here are nine tips for dealing with all those changes and realizing the positives of your new life!
1. Get involved with your local alumni
If you can’t be a student anymore, the next best thing might be the alumni association! While the extent of your alumni association may depend on the size of your alma mater and your location, you can find events and groups across the country—especially in major cities. Alumni associations provide opportunities to stay involved with your school, meet and reconnect with people who’ve shared a similar experience and background, and may even provide opportunities to give back to the community. Many schools hold alumni weekends on campus; find out when yours is and head back to your old stomping grounds to mingle with fellow grads!
2. Plan a trip to meet college friends (once it’s safe to)
If it’s the people you’re missing, try organizing a weekend trip to meet up with your college besties and reminisce over your favorite antics. Though your friends may have scattered after graduation, take the initiative and choose a neutral location for a weekend of fun. Split the cost of a vacation rental using sites like airbnb or VRBO and enjoy reliving your favorite memories. When you get back, keep remembering those positive memories and look forward to when you can meet up again!
3. Go to a sports game
If your school had a strong sports presence, consider getting tickets to watch a game. If you live close to your alma mater, grab your old roommate and head back to cheer on the team! If not, going to a professional game or even a game at a different college offers the same adrenaline. Watching athletic events fills you with a feeling of camaraderie with the strangers around you as you cheer on the team.
4. Join a local club or organization
Maybe you devoted hours to clubs that connected you to your favorite hobbies, passions, and people who shared those same interests. Nikki Snyder, a 2014 graduate of Boston University remembers, “Some things about college were so great, like the plethora of activities and clubs begging for your involvement, whereas now you have to seek them out.”
Luckily for us, the Internet has made finding people whose interests align with yours incredibly accessible. If you’re in a new city after graduating or if you’re looking to expand your network and meet new people, MeetUp.com can help you find groups near you that fit your interests. “One of the things I miss most about college is my study abroad semester. But if I learned anything from those six months, it was the importance of stepping outside your comfort zone. After graduating, I realized I had so much more free time that I wasn’t taking advantage of. So I took a leap and joined a climbing gym. A little investment for a lot of fulfillment,” says Nikki. There are running clubs, women’s clubs, reading clubs… the list goes on. As Nikki points out, it may take a little more effort than it did in college, but you can still find people coming together to enjoy your favorite activities out in the real world!
5. Challenge yourself to keep learning
While many of us miss the social aspect of college, some of us also miss challenging our minds. From the time we were six years old until we graduated in our twenties, we were constantly in school learning and expanding our knowledge base. Set yourself goals to read a set number of books each month month, stay up to date on the news and current events, or download something like Duolingo to maintain your minor in French. By continuing to learn, you’ll fill your time positively impacting your own life and have less time to miss college.
If you’re really committed to learning new things, consider taking a class. Look into your local community college to see what sort of classes are offered to non-students; many universities will also have continuing education programs geared specifically towards those who are no longer in school. Learn how to cook, take swing dancing lessons, beef up your Instagram posts with a photography class; there are so many new things you can pick up on improve on! Anna Kelsey, a 2014 Boston University graduate, suggests using the free online program, Codecademy, to teach yourself how to code. “Learning how to program is practical and can benefit many different careers,” she says. Again, you’ll have less time to dwell in your feelings of nostalgia and taking classes will enhance your already well-earned degree!
One of the best ways to get yourself out of any funk, college nostalgia or otherwise, is giving back to your community through volunteering. When you volunteer, you’re positively impacting other lives which can leave you feeling uplifted. VolunteerMatch.org can help you find opportunities that match your interests in your area.
Rachel Kossman, a 2011 graduate of Northeastern University, gives back by helping underprivileged students realize their dreams of attending four year universities through Minds Matter. “Our kids are inspiring, and being a part of their journey (my mentee was just accepted into 4 summer programs across the country, and will be attending a 4 week summer program at George Washington!) is so inspiring!” she says of working with the program.
Volunteering also provides opportunities to meet people with similar values and goals in your community. Rachel says, “The community of other young adults who are mentors for the program is amazing—we’re all smart, motivated and dedicated young professionals who want to give up our Saturday afternoons to work with young kids who have less than us. The program plans socials and happy hours for us, and it’s a great built in way to meet people my age who are good citizens and great potential friends.” While volunteering is a great way to give back, the opportunity to meet like-minded people is an added benefit!
7. Talk about your college years
Like many things, one way to move on from all those feels is to talk about it. Grab a friend and head to coffee where you can reminisce over old shenanigans and memories. However, make sure to end on a positive note rather than using your friends to wallow more! Talk about future plans, what you like about being out of college, and focus on the positives of being a college grad—and a real adult.
8. Make a photo album
While you’re sure to have countless Facebook albums from your years as a collegiette, you may not have physical copies of those same pictures. Methodically going through your archive of photos to choose your favorites to print and organize into a physical album can allow you to reflect on your time in college. If you’re up for the challenge, go the extra mile to make a scrapbook and include concert tickets, pages from your notes, and other mementos you may still have around. A physical album or scrapbook provides a creative outlet for your nostalgia. Plus, when it’s finished and you’re missing your friends and alma mater, you can always pull out the album and take a trip down memory lane!
9. Take a break from social media
Maybe you moved away from most of your friends. Maybe you’re not where you’d like to be in your post-college years. Or maybe you have younger friends who are still enjoying their college careers. If you’re struggling with any of these scenarios, consider taking a break from social media. Seeing friends’ pictures and status updates when you’re feeling down about being out of college can compound the problem. Allowing yourself to step away from Facebook and Instagram for a bit may help you stop comparing your own post-college life to that of others who may be in very different places. It’s always good to remember, too, that you’re seeing their highlight reel and they may be struggling with missing college just as much as you are!
Setting aside social media also frees up time to get out and enjoy your twenties! While occasionally reminiscing or keeping up with your friends on social media is totally okay, living in the present is a much better way to spend your time and energy!
While we all have moments when we wish we were back in that dorm we decorated so carefully with our favorite posters or laughing over a bottle of wine with our best friends (when we really should’ve been studying for finals), we should cherish those memories without dwelling over the fact that they’re in the past. Life doesn’t end when you graduate; it just takes a new shape and can be just as good!