It’s the beginning of April, and that means many of you will be graduating from college shortly. Depending on how savvy of an undergrad you are, you’ve either milked the college thing for all it’s worth — i.e., you still live in a dorm and get a meal plan — or you haven’t, and you live in a disgusting apartment where a good day involves a fight with your roommate over the dishes.
If you’re the latter case, you’ve already experienced a taste of the depressing jolt of reality that leads people to write songs like “I Wish I Could Go Back to College.” But believe it or not, it gets worse.
See, once you’re out of college, all bets are off. Chances are, Mom and Dad were paying your rent in college; they’ll stop now. You’ll be expected to find a job — in one of the worst economic climates this country has ever seen. And you’ll be expected to take on responsibilities that you’ve never had before: some combination of electric bills, laundry, car insurance, health insurance, cooking, heat, and trash. Oh, you already pay car insurance? Good for you. Here are six more bills, and by the way, you’re in credit card debt.
One more thing: you won’t have friends anymore. Maybe a few of them will stick around, and maybe you’ll still go out drinking with them, but in general, get used to being a loser.
Now that I’ve thoroughly depressed you, I think it’s the perfect time to offer you some advice.
Go to grad school.
My senior year of college, I was intent on not going to graduate school. I spent four years worth of tuition on a screenwriting major, and I was determined that graduate school would only put off the inevitable: my immediate success in Hollywood. It was my time to unleash me into the world.
That was my first mistake: you want to put off the inevitable. At all costs. Because the true inevitable amounts to unemployment or, if you’re lucky and didn’t choose a B.S. major like I did, a job you have to get up at 7 a.m. for. In grad school, you may have to find an apartment, but you’ll never have to get up at 7 a.m. unless you’re in business school. You can even still schedule your own classes! If you shun grad school, the days of deciding not to take three classes in a row because you like taking naps at 2 p.m. are over. Forever.
If you won’t go to grad school, at least move in with your parents.
Welcome to easy street — and the only thing you need to give up in exchange is a little piece of your dignity. Your mom and dad won’t really want you anymore, but they’ll take you — and cook for you, and take out your garbage, and pay all the utility bills. You may have to make your bed or mow the lawn every once in a while — but that’s it. The carefree days of high school are back.
You may have to move away from all your college buddies, but this way you can get back in touch with all those people who never left your hometown after graduation. Be nice to them, okay? You’re one of them now.
This scenario might sound like hell to you right now. But I guarantee you, six months into the real world, it’s going to sound like paradise.
If you refuse to move in with your parents, at least get a female roommate.
If you have a girlfriend, move in with her. Afraid of commitment? Tough. When she’s doing your dishes, keeping your apartment from looking like a bomb went off, and keeping all the bills organized, you’ll thank me.
No girlfriend? Try to find a platonic female roommate. One of my old college buddies lived with a female friend for a year and it worked great because they created a system: he’d take out the trash if she’d do all the dishes. Naturally, the second job was way more time consuming and much worse, but since he could stand a sink full of dishes and she couldn’t, she was forced into it. That’s the kind of deal you need to make.
Whether you move in with your girlfriend or just a random girl, you won’t be getting laid nearly as much as you’re imagining, but at least in the second scenario it’ll be excusable.
If you can’t find a female roommate, go take a road trip, live in a hostel, backpack overseas, anything.
Don’t live alone or with a male roommate. For the sake of your sanity, don’t. Living alone, your apartment will be messy, and to your horror you’ll find that you’re actually starting to care. You’ll have to pay all the bills yourself, including rent, and trust me, you can’t afford it. And you will go completely stir crazy. (Okay, one clear cut win here: you’ll have unparalleled masturbatory freedom. Unplug those headphones and open your bedroom door!)
A male roommate will split the costs and provide somebody to hang out with, right? Wrong. It was easy to get along in college because neither of you had to worry about anything in that tiny dorm room. Now you have to share a kitchen, and guess what? You’re about to get roaches. You’ll also have to split the cable bill, which is impossible: either you can never get the check from him, or he forgets to send it in on time, resulting in an absurdly large late fee. You’ll grow to slowly hate each other until you have thoughts about moving into your own place, but — remember? — you can’t afford it. Congratulations, you’re trapped.
Sell all your possessions and go live in a youth hostel instead. Trust me, it’s better. If you help out with stuff, chances are you can live there for pennies or for free. Or go on a road trip. Or convince your parents that you “just need a year to figure out what I want to do” and make them finance a trip to Europe. Maybe the recession will be over by the time you come back.
If all else fails, at least live near a relative.
Don’t underestimate free laundry and the occasional dinner invite.