The summer after college can be overwhelming, to say the least. One minute, you’re on stage getting your diploma and posting cute cap and gown pictures to your social media pages. The next, you’re freaking out about your future. Every previous summer, you’ve just looked forward (or dreaded tbh) the next Fall semester. But now you wonder, “What do I do next? How should I spend my first few months as a ‘real adult?’” No need to worry about what to do after college – we’ve got you covered with this fun but practical post-graduation summer checklist.
Have fun before facing #adulting.
The two best and easiest times in your life to travel are after college and in retirement. So, why wait?
Whether you hit the road cross-country or fly to a new continent depends on your current financial situation. If you can swing an international trip, go for it! But if you’re living on a tighter budget, take a trip anywhere for a much-needed break between college and the “real world.” No matter where you venture, rest assured that traveling after college has some serious benefits outside of the fun experience and social media fodder.
There’s always safety in numbers, so buddy up with friends to double down on quality time and peace of mind. If you’d rather go it alone, more power to you. Just make sure you’re prepared to travel solo.
It’s sad but true: life flies by. Before you kick the bucket, what do you want to have done in your life? Make yourself a wish list of everything you’d like to do before you die. This can help you see what’s most important to you.
Once you’ve got this list, use it to make memories at every step of your life starting with this summer. Choose at least one thing on your bucket list and make it your mission to check it off.
What are you passionate about? Have you always wanted to learn the fine art of soap-making? Get your hands on books covering those subjects and you’ll be a much more interesting person at parties.
We know you’re probably tired of all the required reading you had to do in college but reading has some incredible perks. It can reduce stress levels, lighten depression and anxiety, and increase overall life satisfaction. Besides, indulging in some good non-fiction books could help you get a better idea of what you want from your career and life in general.
The best part? This one’s inexpensive, so long as you take advantage of your local public library.
Figure out what the heck you’re going to do about your college loans after your grace period ends.
Student loan debt is becoming such a problem in the United States that many companies have sponsored student loan payoff contests. These contests offer winners the chance to have some (or all!) of their student loan debt covered.
MoneySolver’s #PayMyStudentLoans Contest offers one lucky winner the chance to win up to $50,000 in student loan debt paid off. Submissions require a written essay (250 words or less) or YouTube video (60 seconds or less) answering a prompt. Why not take a moment to apply for a chance to wipe out your student loan debt?
Did you know that there are student loan scholarships out there, just waiting to help you pay off your student loan debt? While traditional scholarships only offer you a chance to pay for future or current college classes, these scholarships will help you pay back part of your student loan debt.
Our hottest student loan scholarship right now is the $2,500 Student Loan Forgiveness Scholarship, which you can enter by submitting a short essay answering the prompt. But all our scholarships can also be put towards student loan debt, so be sure to apply to as many as possible!
If you want to get rid of that student debt hanging over your head ASAP, start setting up habits and planning to pay it off sooner. Maybe you know you won’t be able to pay much at first on your loans. In that case, you could look into income-based repayment plans. Once you pick a plan, be consistent about making payments on time after your grace period ends.
Alternatively, if you think forgiveness might be a good route for you, start researching what it takes to qualify for programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
At the very least, investigate your student loan account(s) to make sure you know the basics about your situation, including how much money you owe and what servicers you’ll need to pay. If you’ve only got federal student loans, you can do this through the National Student Loan Data System.
Whether you’re planning on going back for that Master’s degree or taking a gap year before committing to a job, some temporary relief from your student loan bills may be your best option once summer ends.
If staying out of student loan default means putting a temporary hold on paying your loans, there’s no shame in that.
Start laying down the foundation for your adult life.
The future is terrifying, but it can also be amazing. Take the time to lay out life goals for yourself to help ensure it’s as amazing as possible. As opposed to a bucket list, these life goals should reflect where you’d like to be in a specific amount of time, whether that be short-term or long-term.
Your goals can be as specific or vague as you’d like. They can include financial (like saving enough for a down payment over the next three years), professional (like building a unique, strong personal brand in the next ten years), and personal goals (like mastering the perfect grilled cheese before you turn 35).
By now, you’ve probably caught onto the concept that credit is important in the adult world. It makes a difference, especially when you’re planning on buying a car, taking out a mortgage on a house, or looking for a loan to open your small business.
If you haven’t had one before, you may want to start researching credit cards that could work for you. There are plenty of credit cards that are perfect for people new to the credit scene. You’ll want to keep an eye on the annual percentage rate (or APR), the annual fee (shoot for $0 if possible), the minimum repayment, and the benefits (cash back rewards are awesome).
While your current income stream may be more of a trickle, it’s vital for you to keep putting some money into savings. Even if it’s a few bucks every paycheck, this will help you establish an all-important emergency fund in case your car breaks down or some unexpected medical bills pop up.
What’s difficult here is keeping your emergency fund untouched. No dipping into it for those latest Gucci sunglasses! Keep it protected until you really need it.
Whether you’ll be searching for full-time jobs, part-time jobs, or freelance gigs, it’s important to know what the job market looks like for you. Once you graduate from college, do a simple job search online for openings that sound interesting to you (bonus points if they align with your career goals!)
Many entry-level jobs may seem like they require some experience, but don’t let that stop you from applying. It can’t hurt to apply for a job that seems slightly out of your league. The worst that can happen? The HR professional in charge puts your resume out of the running immediately.
Casting a wide net in your field when job hunting can help increase your chance of landing an interview. It’s alright to have a dream job in mind but understand that you may have to work your way up to that role. Now that you’ve got the education you need, you’ll want to start gaining experience to support it.
Budgeting is hard for anyone who hasn’t done it before. Your goal with budgeting should be understanding where your money comes from and where it goes. That understanding can help you build life-long healthy money habits.
Where do you start? In the age of the internet, it’s easy. With one simple Google search, you’ll be able to find loads of free budgeting spreadsheets and personal finance apps that can help you keep track.
Once you see how your spending habits stack up to your income, you’ll be able to see how you can be cutting back on those unnecessary expenses (like changing your twice-a-day Frappuccino habit to a twice-a-week expense instead). And you’ll be able to figure out how to save for some of those life goals you wrote down earlier.
Want to take this “What to Do After College” checklist with you? You’re in luck! Download the printable version by clicking here or clicking the picture below.