For the past 20 or so years of your life, school has been the one constant among multiple life changes. You take classes, make friends, study notes, take exams and, through trial and error, pass your courses. Once you realize that your time in school is limited, the mixed feelings of sadness, excitement and fear start to settle in. Are you really ready to live in the “real world?” Have you learned to cook? Pay your bills on time? Feed the cat? Instead of worrying, focus on the things that may have slipped by while you were hard at work. Here are six things you need to do before you graduate and become a “real” adult.
1. Take a road trip.This is one of the things you’ve been meaning to do since you left the nest four years ago. Leaving your parents’ house was like a breath of fresh air. The problem is that college becomes a monotonous routine of studying, partying and sleeping. Be spontaneous and take a road trip with friends or even by yourself to new cities you’ve heard of but have never been to. College will be the last time you’ll have the freedom and carefree life before you start working, so leave town and make awesome memories!
2. Travel abroad.Studying abroad is often on the list of many incoming college students. The years pass, homework, projects and other commitments pile on, and that semester in Paris keeps getting pushed back until you realize you’ve wasted an opportunity to live in other parts of the world you’ve only ever seen in stock photos. In Florida, the number of students in state colleges or universities studying abroad was 10,149 out of 1,154,929 in the 2012-2013 school year. Don’t let your responsibilities and commitments stop you from exploring different countries. Live the adventure.
3. Get to know your town.It’s amazing how many students spend four years living in a single place and never bother to explore it. Gainesville has a lot more to offer than UF, Lake Wauburg, Midtown and downtown. It’s a town with a lot of history and families that have lived here for generations. Visit Devil’s Millhopper, a state park in the outskirts of Gainesville with a large sinkhole in the hiking trail. Don’t limit yourself to the repetition of everyday life.
4. Join organizations outside or not related to your major.Participating in organizations that are not related to your field of study is very beneficial to your growth as a human being. Think about it: You spend every waking moment worried about classes that are meant to prepare you for a career. Ideally, you’d also join organizations that will guide you in making the right connections for the future. Is that enough? Definitely not. Get outside your comfort zone, learn something new, and meet people who are different than you. That’s when you know you’re really living.
5. Get an internship.Attaining some real world experience before you graduate can open your eyes to what it’ll be like for you when you’re getting paid for a full-time career. If there is one thing you’ll learn, it’s whether or not you’re meant for the career path you have been shedding blood, sweat and tears for during the last four years. Did you realize accounting was not for you? Fantastic! At least you now know what you’re not interested in. Finding what motivates and excites you will be a blast because of all the options you now have.
6. Stop caring about what others think.At the end of the day, it’s you walking across that stage. It’s you walking out of your apartment. It’s you preparing for your first job in the world as a post-grad. No one else is living your life for you, so why care about what others think about your choices? It’s true what they say about life being too short to care about the little things. If your parents are still on you about getting a high-paying job, have that overdue conversation with them and explain that any path in life you choose will be the right one because you chose it.
As if leaving college wasn’t hard enough, now you have to worry about having fun before this chapter ends. A piece of advice: Don’t worry about enjoying yourself. Just do it. Don’t think, stress or worry too much. Just breath and let the fun times happen. They’ll come and go like all the moments you’ve lived through during the course of your young life. Simply remember to make time for yourself and your dreams.