There’s more to life than doing what’s expected–graduate from school, get a good paying job, start a family, raise kids, retire. Stop following the crowd and take the road less traveled. Stop letting mommy and daddy control your life and tell them you’ve got to do what you want, damn it. Sure, they might cut you off and you’ll be left to finally grow up and figure out what being a real adult means, but so what? Living life the way you want to is better than letting somebody make all of your decisions for you. Don’t jump at the first job opportunity that comes your way after graduating. Do something fun. Live a little.
Stop pinning pictures of beautiful places and faraway lands on your “Dream Vaycay” Pinterest board. Save up those bartender tips and tuck them away for a year of traveling. “I want to travel because there’s so much you can learn and experience with a world as big as ours,” Western Carolina junior Shannon Maloney said. Take a road trip around the United States and spend some time in major cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago or Atlanta. Or, if you’ve managed to gather major bank for graduation gifts, travel overseas. Spend time on the beaches of Greece instead of beaches in your hometown full of local families. Stroll around in the streets of London instead of through the department stores of the mall you’ve been going to since you were 10.
2. Graduate School
Maybe that bachelor’s degree really was only BS, and now you feel like you need something more. Well, graduate school is always an option. “Graduate [school] gives you a way to concentrate on a specific area of interest in your career,” Georgia College and State University junior Taylor Harp said. “I think it’ll be beneficial because I’ll get to learn a lot more information inside and outside the classroom. Plus, my potential earnings will increase.” If staying a college kid a little longer means getting extra cash and more opportunities in future, sign me up! Whether it’s law school, medicals school or a master’s in your area of study, do yourself a favor and apply to graduate school. Plus, some schools and jobs pay for your graduate classes if you work for them. Using loans as a reason not to avoid graduate school is no longer valid.
3. Work for a non-profit
Non-profit work grabs the attention of those who spent a lot of time in volunteer-oriented organizations during college. In the internship program for United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), you can work in the areas of child protection, education, gender equality, health and more. Or volunteer for the Humane Society of the United States. Volunteers for this nonprofit get to help save adorable puppies and provide attention to cuddly kittens. Because who needs a relationship when you can get all the love you need from those guys, amIright? The opportunities to be a part of something bigger than yourself are endless.
4. Work in a Field Outside Your Degree
You always thought that majoring in creative writing was going to help you become the next Stephanie Meyer, but then you realized that writer’s block is a serious thing. Instead of going back to school for another degree or suffering at a terrible office job that barely lets you do what you learned at all those 9 a.m. lectures, try a job outside of your degree. This can be anything from becoming a nanny for new moms or getting a job as a waitress at one of your favorite restaurants. Sometimes these jobs become more satisfying and lead us to places we’d never get to if we hadn’t tried. Plus, you can make bank as a nanny and get free food on nights that you close the restaurant.
5. Start Your Own Business
Are you afraid of ending up with a boss like the ones in Horrible Bosses? Or maybe you don’t see the point in helping someone else build their dreams while you do all the background work. That’s perfectly fine. Be bold and start your own business. Invest in yourself and build your own brand. Sometimes it’s better to begin your path in life by starting a project that’s all your own. Whether it’s your own communications firm or a boutique on Etsy, just try it out. Take a note from Tyler Perry, who started his own film production company after spending years being homeless.
6. Stay In Your College Town
Still not ready to go back to your hometown? Just stick around your university for a little while longer and make it your permanent home. Find a job in the place that sculpted your college experience and become a member of the community you’ve grown to love. That coffee shop that you used to hit up before every 8 a.m. discussion can now be the place you go to before you clock in at 8 a.m. for work. And the family-owned restaurant that only exists near your school can continue to be your favorite place to eat. Everything that you’ve grown accustomed to over the last four years doesn’t have to be a memory.
7. Move Back in with Your Parents
Still in need of mommy and daddy’s love, affection and money? Well, if they’re still willing to give it, go ahead and move back in with your folks. We all could use a little more help until we finally start to bring in money from that entry-level job. Perhaps you missed your childhood pup and you need to make up for four years away from all his cuddles. Or maybe you just love the idea of sticking to something familiar after graduating school. Major life changes tend to have that effect on some of us. Until you can get a hold on life and adulting, spend a few months in your parents’ house. And when you’re tired of them asking you too many questions and trying to set a curfew, gather your funds and get your own place.
8. Teach English Overseas
Teaching English overseas gives you the opportunity to travel, earn money and impact the lives of others. Because English is the second language of many countries, there are many opportunities for going abroad to teach. “I want to teach in Nigeria because it’s a cool place that’s also close to my heart since I’m Nigerian,” University of Georgia junior Chia Uzuegbunam said. “I think it would be a great experience to help broaden my views of the world.” Have the joy of learning about another culture and be a role model to your students with a few simple steps. First, take a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, Teaching English as a Second Language or Teaching English as a Foreign Language course that’ll prepare you for getting the certification for teaching overseas. Next, choose a country to teach in and an organization such as Disney English or A Broader View. Before you know it, you’ll make foreign friends and lifelong memories that you couldn’t get from a sad, grey cubicle.
9. Join the Peace Corps
The Peace Corps is another service opportunity for those interested in helping bring about positive change in communities around the world. It’s about making a difference and giving others the opportunities that you were able to have in your life. There is a two-year volunteer program that you can get involved in. As a volunteer, you can work in the health sector to promote nutrition, maternal and child health, basic hygiene and water sanitation. Or you can volunteer in the youth development sector where the focus is promoting gender awareness, health, information technology and much more. The experience helps many learn more about themselves and have a better understanding of what they want in life if they’re stuck in a post-grad rut after graduation.
10. “Start A Family”
When the time comes for you to grow your nest and expand, you’ll just know. Some people may not understand, but it’s your life, right? Just don’t forget to really talk this decision over with your partner, baby proof the house and remember that your life is bound to change. Once you get all of that straight, go ahead and get that adorable black lab puppy. “I’m such a dog person, so after college I want to rescue a dog,” Shorter University junior Fiorella Gamarra said. “I just want to give them a good life that all dogs deserve.” Starting a family doesn’t have to mean getting married and having kids. Being a puppy or kitten mom can be just as fulfilling as caring for a tiny human.