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Top Ten Things to Do After Graduating

By Christopher Schonberger

The best way to postpone (if not avoid) the feeling of post-grad dread is to take a step back and give yourself some time to decompress. For all the tomfoolery that goes on, college is a tough gig, and you wouldn’t be the first person to feel burnt out on commencement day. Whether it’s a week or the whole summer, set yourself a realistic timeframe for how long you can relax before you start seriously job-hunting. Creating this buffer zone between college and the “real world” will pay off in the long run because it will put you in a better place mentally to decide what to do. Here are some ideas for making the most of your down time.

  • Go skydiving. Not my cup of tea, but if you want to act like the second coming of Dan Cortez, more power to you. I mean, that dude was pretty cool.
  • Apply to a reality TV show. Ever since they green-lit the return of American Gladiator, those “15 minutes of fame” are being handed out like hot cakes. What do you have to lose (except dignity and the support of your family)?
  • Read. College is all about books you have to read, whereas post-college is about reading what you want. Who knows, you might even make it past page 50 this time. (To get started, check out our survival guide on Filling up Your Bookshelves.
  • Travel. The post-gradation trip is a classic move for those who can afford it, and even grads on a tight budget have plenty of options close to home. All of the pieces are in place for a great trip—youth, health, and a celebratory subtext. So why not get cracking on that “50 Places to Visit Before You Die” list?
  • Learn to cook. Once you’re living alone sans a meal plan, the ability to whip up a fricassee will save big bucks and impress potential mates like the plumage of a peacock. Look into classes offered through the Culinary Institute of America and local organizations, or just start experimenting with Gradspot’s “Recipe of the Week.”
  • Spend time with your family. Take advantage of the time you can spend with your loved ones now, because tomorrow you might be busy. Or they might be dead. (Only joking.)
  • Be a kid again. Go home and rekindle all those old feelings you had as a child. Dust off your old Nintendo console. Hit a tennis ball against a wall and pretend it’s Monica Seles. Whatever it takes to get that spring back in your step.
  • Get in ridiculous shape. Hitting the gym hard is sort of a chach college maneuver favored by dudes who exclusively do upper body and can barely run a mile, but exercise is an easy way to feel better, look better, and motivate yourself to take the next step.
  • Volunteer. Before you become too “busy” making money for yourself, demonstrate a little of the philanthropic spirit for which you may or may not be famous. Find something that appeals to you personally and get involved. (For ideas, check out VolunteerMatch and Idealist.)
  • Write a book. Or if writing’s not your thing, pursue anything that you’re passionate about. Record songs, paint pictures, or write the screenplay you’ve been talking about for three years. Now is the time.
  • BONUS: Get a tattoo: My brother claims this is an awesome idea.
  • Want more tips, tricks, and top ten lists like this? Then check out The Gradspot.com Guide to Life After College, available as a FREE download at Gradspot.com/book.

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