The Truth About Life After University
Life after your degree is not as smooth sailing as you think. Here are 7 gruelling realities of life after university.
Updated 02 Aug 2019
Are you counting down the days till graduation? Itching to free yourself from the clutches of university so that you can finally work and start earning some money?
Before you get too excited, you should know that although your degree might have armed you with the academic capabilities to take on the world, it does not truly prepare you for the realities of life after university.
In this article, we’re revealing the reasons why life after university isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Buckle up!
#1. Say goodbye to flexible timetables
If you’ve ever grumbled about that one lecturer who had the audacity to schedule an 8am class despite there being 23 other hours in a day to choose from, count yourself lucky because you didn’t have to endure it every day. In fact, you’ll soon be reminiscing about the time you only had to drag yourself out of bed early once a week, as work life means waking up at ungodly hours in a futile attempt to evade rush hour traffic — every single day.
Bid farewell to quick teh tarik sessions at the nearby mamak in between lectures or the sweet pleasure of an afternoon nap before your next class. Entering the workforce will have you relegated to the humdrum of the 9 to 5 lifestyle where the highlight of your day will probably be fighting your way into a crowded train at peak time on your way home.
#2. More money means more commitments
If you are still studying at university with an allowance from your parents, you’re probably embroiled in an endless budgeting saga featuring expensive college supplies, living off instant noodles and grappling with your disappointing excuse for a bank balance day after day.
While the financial independence that comes with being employed can be as sweet as it sounds, you should keep in mind the wise words of Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, “with great power, comes great responsibility”.
This is because earning a salary means taking on more financial commitments such as paying off student loans, forking out money for your weekly petrol, keeping track of your monthly bills and paying taxes.
#3. You’ll have to build a new social circle
At university, it’s likely that your #squad would be made up of individuals of a similar age group, those pursuing the same career path or who simply share the same interests.
However, as you enter the working world, you will need to mix and mingle with people of different ages who have varying academic backgrounds and job positions. You will have to learn how to communicate with your superiors confidently while working as a team with your colleagues on a daily basis.
Although having to build new relationships with strangers might be incredibly intimidating at first, networking with your colleagues is a great way to diversify your social circle and open yourself up to various new perspectives, ideas and skills.
#4. You’ll need a new wardrobe
No matter how stringent your campus rules on attire are, chances are you would have slipped into a lecture theatre donning sweatpants and sneakers on more than one occasion.
But once you start working, gone are the days where it didn’t matter if you combed your hair that morning or just rolled out of bed in the same shirt you slept in because nobody was awake in your 10am class to notice.
You probably won’t be expected to struggle in a 3-piece suit behind your work desk but you won’t get away with wearing a ratty T-shirt, shorts and flip flops. However, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Dressing the part can be a fun way to express yourself and a good way to establish your professionalism in the workplace.
#5. You’ll be giving up long holidays
Do you spend most weekdays pining for the weekend and all of the semester yearning for term break? Savour your long holidays while they last! While semester breaks at university typically range from 3 weeks to a month, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a holiday longer than a 4-day weekend when you eventually enter the workforce.
While you will enjoy leave benefits as an employee, you’ll be carefully saving those precious off-days for a special occasion. And don’t be surprised if you aren’t always thrilled at the prospect of a long weekend as you’ll almost certainly be returning to a fantastic load of work that would’ve piled up over the holidays.
#6. You’ll pick your bed over your besties
At university, no matter how sleep deprived you’ve been all week, the weekend is always an occasion for pomp and ceremony — whether it’s a movie marathon with friends, dinner and drinks with your classmates or a midnight game of futsal. No matter what your poison, it’d be practically a sin to be in bed before 12am on a Friday night.
However, as a working professional, TGIF will have a whole new meaning in this new phase of life. If you’re banking on after-work dinner dates with friends or fancy luncheons with your mates — think again. Even if you’ve been cooking up all sorts of ambitious plans over the week, all you’ll really want to do at the end of the working day is to clock in a full 8 hours of sleep.
#7. Prepare to pack on the pounds
Staying fit in college is a breeze. The unparalleled convenience of having flexible schedules means being able to squeeze in a quick workout after class or rallying up a buddy to play football in the park. Even if you’ve pledged to keep a safe distance from the gym, just walking from one faculty to the other or trekking up dozens of steps to that pesky tutorial room on the top floor will likely be enough to help keep off all that roti pisang you’re scarfing down at midnight.
Unfortunately, staying in shape as a working adult takes a conscious effort as you’ll probably be spending 8 hours a day parked on your bottom, taking the occasional break to sample your office’s well-stocked pantry.
Entering the working world will take some getting used to. However, once you familiarise yourself with the ins and outs of your career and the new responsibilities you’ll have to manage, you’ll begin to enjoy it.
Most importantly, working will provide you with valuable new experiences and empower you with the capabilities to create the lifestyle that you want —on your own terms. Good luck!