Has anyone else started to freak out that it’s already the middle of September and the season of all pumpkin everything and leggings and boots is upon us? I mean, the stores are already filled with fall and Halloween decor. And you know what that means.
The second that Halloween is over, they’ll start playing Christmas music. So it’s practically the holidays already. I mean, it sure seemed like it at Kohl’s yesterday.
I LOVE this time of the year. I love it when the weather gets cooler and I can bundle up a little more. It means I get to wear jeans and sweaters, which means I don’t have to shave as often (ladies, don’t deny it! That’s a HUGE perk of this season!). I can drink hot tea or coffee in the middle of the day and not sweat. I’m already really excited to start adding fall/winter colors to my wardrobe. I’m thinking I’m going to build a palette of dark grey, camel, aubergine/eggplant, and burgundy/wine. Maybe some forest green and cream if I can find the right pieces.
The (maybe) two men reading this post just totally checked out. Moving on.
As excited I am for the change in seasons, however, this fall is also a really big life moment. It’s the first fall in 18 or 19 years that I haven’t gone to school. This has brought up a lot of conversations between me and my friends about what we miss and don’t miss about college- even for the friends who are in grad school.
This week, I made a pros and cons list for College vs. Employment. School vs. “Real Life.” Pre-Adulthood vs. Trying to be an Adult-hood.
Let’s get started, shall we?
Pro: being able to spell “college” like that and people might maybe think it’s funny or witty. This does not happen after college.
Con: Being surrounded by people who spell words like that all the time in an effort to be funny. We need more creative wordplay.
Pro: dining halls and meal plans. Access to nearly unlimited amounts of food, two or three times a day. Then, on top of that, you have a magical ID card which allows you to purchase more food outside of meal times- and, more importantly, gives you access to significant quantities of Starbucks.
Con: eventually, the food gets boring. Also, the ID card is not actually magic and all of that Starbucks makes the magic run out more quickly than you thought.
Pro: Dorms! All of your friends, all people your age, all of the time. In many cases, you never want for company.
Con: Sometimes, it’s nice for it to be quiet and solitary. Also, totally done with the whole sharing a bathroom thing. I’ve taken more than my fair share of other people’s hair out of the shower drain.
Pro: Sleeping in late, or, as late as possible, because you don’t really need to dress up for your 8 AM class.
Con: You’re sleeping in so late because you didn’t go to sleep until 2 AM, for no reason other than homework.
Pro: Free workout areas and cheap fitness classes.
Pro: It’s still acceptable for your parents to take care of your finances.
Con: Even if you’re working, you’re probably not earning very much money. And much of that goes to cover your regular spending- partying, shopping, and so on.
Con: HOMEWORK. Because it was just a blast coming home from evening activities after 10 o’ clock, having to start reading 40 pages of political theory, due at 11 AM the next morning.
Con: Ruuuuuuules. Parietals? Alcohol? But we’re all 18 or older. Which makes us legally adults. Which means we totally don’t need those rules to keep us from making poor decisions…right?
Pro: Football weekends! Two solid days of school spirit and zero expectation of getting any work done.
Con: It’d be nice to be able to go into the bookstore after 12 PM on a Friday without having to weave through packs of alumni. I just need some folders…not a $50 sweatshirt.
Pro: you get to do a million things and have a bunch of different identities. You can be an actress and a researcher and an educator. You don’t have to choose!
Pro: FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE. Nothing feels better than buying something for yourself and knowing that you yourself earned it.
Con: Life is expensive. I mean, have you actually looked at what a box of cereal costs?? What happened to my free Cracklin’ Oat Bran?! Oh, and you actually do have to pay that credit card bill. That’s NOT a magical ID card. (See above, though. Paying it off feels GOOD.)
Pro: NO RULES! You can drink whatever you want every single night and have friends (or more than friends) (or even strangers) of the opposite sex over past 2 AM- heck, as late as you want!
Con: If you took that pro to the extreme, you may make some poor decisions and they will have consequences. Just saying. You do you…but maybe think about it first?
Pro: NO HOMEWORK!!! Well, this isn’t true for everybody. Some people do have to bring work home with them. Including commuting, I work until 8:30 or 9 PM most nights Monday through Thursday, but when I get home, I don’t check my email, I don’t open up Excel, and I veg out. It’s the greatest thing to know that you’re done for the day.
Con: What happened to all of my friends? Where are all the people my age? I can’t order and eat an entire pizza by myself…and I don’t have any place to just leave it out where I know it will get eaten.
Con: No more monthlong vacations.
Pro: PAID vacation.
Con: You might not be walking everywhere all the time (to class, running errands, etc.) so you’re getting less exercise. Also, gym memberships are expensive.
Con: If you got a job (that you like) straight out of college, a) congratulations! This is an awesome club to be in, right?, and b) you’re probably still really young in most people’s eyes. I’m finding that the years between 21 and 27 are a total vacuum. It’s before the time that people start talking to you about your biological clock and getting married, which is a plus. But it’s also before the time that people will trust that your age equals some level of experience. I get a lot of comments that I look 18. Glad to know that I’m not aging prematurely…but it requires a lot of work to gain professional credibility.
Con: Dressing the right way as a young professional woman. Too frumpy, dowdy, and matronly, and people think you don’t care about your appearance. Appearances do matter, friends. However, if you dress too young, skimpily, or fashionably, you may not be taken seriously. There’s a very fine line. For me, it means a lot of plain blouses and finding the correct length pencil skirt.
Pro: Proving that you can do something with your education that earns actual money and does not require more school (for the time being, anyway). All of those classes and papers and discussions and exams really and truly resulted in skills that I use every day, and I’m getting a salary and benefits for it!
Pro: You’re not alone in this. Everybody is just figuring it out as they go along. That goes for grads who are working, grads who went back to school, grads who are looking for work, and grads who are doing service. Unless your whole group of friends has magically stayed together in the same area, doing the same things, everyone has to learn how to make new friends as an adult and how to maintain the relationships we worked so hard to cultivate in college.
Now, all of the choices are yours. Not your parents’, not your professors’ or advisors’, not your college’s. They’re yours.
And that’s probably the biggest pro of them all.