by Eric Ginsburg

Photo: The author on graduation day, 2010, with two of his former roommates.

1. Friendships change

I finished college five years ago, and even though I should’ve remembered this one from graduating high school, the most important thing I didn’t realize when I accepted my diploma was the extent to which friendships would change. Sure, I knew people would fall off as they moved away, but I didn’t realize how the nature of making friends would shift. Since my schooling ended, I’ve found myself much more formally asking people to be friends, because relationships take more effort post-college. Prepare to put in the work.

2. Consider place

Recent grads often experience a strong urge to GTFO. And I understand that. But the few weeks I spent between commencement and full-time employment, just relaxing in a recliner in my front yard, reading for pleasure for once, is still a favorite memory. Take a minute to slow down, and consider where you are. If your college town and hometown are one and the same, seriously consider leaving, at least for a little while. And if you’re not a native to the Triad, consider that you probably don’t know these cities at all. It’s a different experience as a full-time resident than as a passing student.

3. Expect the call

Your college — or more accurately, some unlucky work-study kid — is going to call you in like, three months to ask for more money. Try not to laugh. I just memorized the school’s digits and screen the calls.

4. Write yourself a letter

Yep, it’s cheesy and sounds like the kind of crappy advice you’d find on Tumblr or in the text of a graduation speech from some hump motivational speaker. But seriously, you’re going to want to remember all the fears, aspirations, doubts and emotions you’re feeling now. Writing a letter to yourself, to be read in a few years, is a great way to reflect, and if your computer doesn’t crash and you remember it down the road, you’ll be thankful. My junior year I wrote my future self a letter to be opened in five years (it was for a class assignment), and when I opened it on my 26th birthday, I was genuinely surprised by how smart I sounded back then. Where did that version of me go?

5. LinkedIn is 90 percent useless

This one is self-explanatory, but everyone is going to jump on there anyway.

6. You don’t need all the answers

The idea of being a professional journalist hadn’t even crossed my mind when I finished school. I went through five-months of unemployment, followed by a prolonged era of underemployment. I couldn’t have predicted any of it, the grand or the terrible, when I graduated. So roll with the punches, be open to opportunity, continually check in with yourself, and don’t expect to have any kind of 5-year plan. That’s for city planners and 30-year-olds.

7. Being cool is for losers

About a decade after I stopped actively calling people posers, I suddenly didn’t care what other people thought about me: at least for stupid things, like friends making fun of my sneakers. Guilty pleasures ceased to exist for me, and many of my peers, around the time we hit 25; we just didn’t give a damn and let our formerly embarrassing music tastes see the light of day. Get a jump on your old classmates and start dancing in public now.


  1. I’m in this odd place of recent grad working for my alma matter (not a native to GSO- lived here 5 years). It’s been an interesting struggle to be in this city not as a student but still full-time at the school. Regardless, I am definitely seeing this place through a different lens. I also must admit I didn’t have a car in college and now that I have one it has been wonderful exploring the city much more. Also, #5 is too true.

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