Tips For Navigating Life After College

By Janet Siroto · December 08, 2023 · 7 minute read

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Tips For Navigating Life After College

Graduating college is a big deal. The time you spent in school has likely taught you a lot about the subjects you studied, being organized and meeting deadlines, and life in general. Once you have your degree, you’ll put those skills to good use as you embark on your career and independent life. No more dining hall, no more dorms…it’s time to launch adult life and figure out how to make your own way.

To help you deal with some of the basics (like a job and banking), read on. You’ll find valuable tips to help you through the first steps of post-grad life.

Life After College

Congrats on your degree! Now, on to the next challenge after graduating college. It’s time to tackle adulting, which can include such things as getting set up in your new living situation, finding your favorite brunch spot, and making new friends if your college pals have scattered to different places.

In addition, there are some major daily-life tasks to wrangle:

•   Finding and holding a job

•   Taking control of your health and your health insurance

•   Keeping your brain active, which may lead to more studies

•   Managing your money.

Read on to get some helpful advice on these last four topics (you can probably find the best brunch spot in your new neighborhood without too much help).

💡 Quick Tip: Enjoy no hidden fees and special member benefits when you refinance student loans with SoFi.

Getting to Work

Hopefully you enjoyed a few weeks off post-grad to travel or kick back and relax after four years of hard work. But what to do after college for many people is find work.

When you’re ready to begin your job search, it can be a lot to process. Chances are, it’s time to focus on taking steps towards building your career.

First off, don’t let job searching stress you out. New grads are in luck. Unemployment is low, and the labor market is strong. According to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, companies expected to hire almost 4% more class of 2023 grads than they did from the previous class.

Not sure where to look for work or what you should be earning? Research, network, and research some more.

•   Your school’s career services office may provide job leads, and its alumni office may be able to network you with people in your field who can share insights.

•   Search for jobs online. There are many job boards, such as Indeed and ZipRecruiter, to access.

•   Put out the word among friends, families, past internship supervisors, and others.

•   To gain intel on starting salaries, try an online salary calculator. You provide some basic info like your location and experience, and their tool tells you what the average salary for your desired role is. While this tool can only provide an estimate, it may help you determine if you should try to negotiate for a higher salary when you receive a job offer.

Taking Your Health into Your Own Hands

As part of learning how to navigate life on your own, make sure you take the reins of your healthcare. Mom and Dad likely aren’t scheduling those biannual dental checkups for you anymore.

Whether you’re still on your parent’s policy or are buying your own health insurance, getting more familiar with the resources your healthcare plan provides is never a bad idea.

It can help you stay on top of scheduling check ups, dental cleanings, and eye exams. You may also need to learn the ropes of finding in-network doctors as you move to a new place or get your own policy.

And you might want to start saving for any unexpected medical or dental bills that may arise. Having an emergency fund at the ready can be an important step to financial wellness in this new chapter of your life.

Speaking of wellness: You may feel swamped by post-grad life, but it’s such an important time to prioritize your well-being. It might be helpful to make time to go to the gym each week, meditate, cook healthy meals, and get a good night’s sleep. Getting into good health habits is an excellent adulting accomplishment.

💡 Quick Tip: Refinancing could be a great choice for working graduates who have higher-interest graduate PLUS loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and/or private loans.

Continuing Your Learning

It’s normal after college to need a little break from learning. For the first time in your life, there is no one telling you what to read or what classes you have to take. But once the dust has settled and you’ve had a rest from hitting the books, you might try to prioritize learning. Not only does it keep your brain sharp, it can also help boost your career.

For example, you could consider obtaining a professional license related to your career or industry. According to the most recent intel from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24% of workers have some sort of professional license or certification. Having one may give you a competitive boost at work or while job searching. You can go the extra mile to develop more skills needed in your career through an online class or professional conference.

What’s more, additional learning and training could lead to a profitable side hustle or gig work. For instance, you might be able to pick up extra cash during tax season supporting professional tax preparers.

Learning-wise, not all of what you do after graduation has to go towards career advancement, of course. Take that cool history of film class at your local community college. Join a book club or just load up your bookshelf with books you’re dying to read. Exploring your passions can help you feel motivated, fulfilled, and inspired. Now is the time in your life to open doors, not close them.

Recommended: What Should I Do After My Master’s Degree?

Getting Your Finances Organized

Once you graduate from college and join the working world, it’s likely time to look at whether your current banking partner suits your needs.

It can be a wise move to look for a bank that offers a good interest rate on your deposits, convenient access, and tools that help you track your money in a quick and convenient way.

As you organize your money (and don’t forget to start that emergency fund mentioned above), you may realize that one expense that may really be bringing you down is your student loan debt payments.

The average federal student loan debt is currently $37,338, according to the Education Data Initiative. Is student loan debt weighing you down? There are a few strategies you can use to help pay off your student loan debt quicker. You might start your journey to a student loan-free life by creating a monthly budget that can help you get out of debt.

•   To create a budget that can assist with paying off debt, you could start by gathering all of your bills and recent receipts. Review exactly what you need to spend on necessary living expenses (rent, food, health insurance, minimum debt payments), how much you are spending on the wants in life (travel, entertainment, clothing), and how much you can save or put toward additional debt payment.

•   There are different budgeting methods, and it’s a good idea to spend a bit of time finding the one that works for you. For instance, you might like the 50/30/20 budget rule, which says to allocate 50% of your take-home pay to necessities, 30% to wants, and 20% to savings and extra debt payoff.

Whichever technique you choose, do compare the cost of your living expenses to your paystubs to see how much you can afford to pay towards debt each month. Creating a budget can help you not only pay off your debt, but avoid accumulating more debt in the future.

Recommended: Which Debt to Pay Off First: Student Loan or Credit Card?

The Takeaway

Once you have your monthly budget under control, you might be considering refinancing your student loans as part of how you navigate life post-college. You may be able to lower your interest rate, lower your monthly payments by extending your repayment term, or release a co-signer from a previous loan.

Do note that lengthening your repayment term can increase the interest you’ll pay throughout the life of your loan.

Refinancing comes with many benefits, but keep in mind that you lose federal benefits and protections when you refinance federal loans with a private lender. But if you are not planning on taking advantage of these benefits, refinancing might be for you.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.

With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.

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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


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