So you’ve lost sleep over countless all nighters, consumed copious amounts of caffeine and barely passed all your classes—and for what? A $160,000 dollar piece of paper that says you accomplished something at Penn State. Instead of wallowing in your student debt, think about the graduation gifts coming your way from family and friends, especially the ones in the form of money. Your relatives just handed you a lump sum of cash that you can’t deny, so figure out how to spend it.
1. Hit the Road
What better way to make up lost time than with friends? “If I had enough money I would buy an old bus, redo it and look like hippies traveling across the country with my friends,” said Penn State sophomore Quiana Dickson. Limited to the confines of your vehicle for hours, you’ll be guaranteed juicy stories, killer playlists and unforgettable scenery. Get off your phone and exploit America’s goldmine of attractions, monuments and national parks. Unsure of which travel route to take? Whether you venture North to South to visit the Olympic National Park in Washington or West to East on the famous Route 66, you really can’t go wrong. Check out Road Trip USA to help you get started.
2. Buy a Plane Ticket
Maybe you dream of traveling the world experiencing new adventures. Now that you don’t have a class schedule holding you back, go for it. Take the next big step, buy that ticket and get your ass on a plane. “I am trying to teach English abroad in Thailand, so I need a way to get there, but I also heard you can do horse tours in Patagonia. Both sound amazing,” said senior Jenny Tato. Since you limited yourself to the same scenery for four years, let your eyes grace something new for a change. How about a horse safari in a foreign country? Explore the vast landscape of the Okavango Delta on horse back with an experienced guide.
3. Get some Plastic Surgery
“So my parents have no idea, but as soon as I get my graduation money I am heading straight to a plastic surgeon and getting a boob job,” said senior Moriah Nastasi. Not everyone was born with double D’s. In a college environment, America’s younger generation feels the pressure to live up to society’s standards every single day. If you plan to give it a try, make sure to check out your surgeon beforehand so you don’t end up begging the Botched doctors to fix you in five years.
4. Plan a Wedding
Maybe you already have your special someone, or maybe you’re unknowingly wasting your time. Regardless, it’s never too late to start saving for the big day. “I just recently proposed to my amazing girlfriend of four years and I am putting all my spare cash towards our wedding next fall,” said recent graduate Jay Rougeau. Ladies, for those of you who think no decent guys attend Penn State, this heartwarming example will prove you wrong. Picture yourself walking down the aisle in an expensive dress, the man of your dreams looking right back at you. Your closest friends, colorful flowers and the Arboretum backdrop surround you. The best part? Your grad money made (some of) it free.
5. Ditch the Ramen and Treat Yourself
Are you a foodie at heart? Then why not dish out your cash on some spectacular dishes. You might gain a few extra pounds doing it, but in all seriousness nothing can stop you after experiencing the freshman 15. “I am a huge pizza enthusiast so I would travel to the best restaurants renowned for making the delicious food,” said junior Ayla Triano. Upgrade from your typical Canyon Pizza and try a slice that costs more than a dollar. Take a trip to the grocery store and buy your favorite ingredients. Who said you can’t be a little creative? You can now spend more than five dollars on ramen and EasyMac, so take advantage of your exciting prospects and let your taste buds enjoy.
6. Become a Mermaid
Who needs legs when you can get fins? “I would move to California and train to be a professional mermaid and after the first week of work I would hire Brendon Urie to come serenade me for a job well done,” said junior Sabrina Krupko. Hear that? Apparently you can train to be a mermaid. Maybe your destiny involves sun-kissed skin, beachy waves and a shell bra. Grab Triano on her food quest, swing by Red Lobster and pick up Sebastian or Flounder—if they’re not already baked. It doesn’t take much to achieve your childhood fantasy. All you need is a mermaid tail monofin, water and in Krupko’s case, Brendon Urie.
7. Go on a Golf Tour
When golfing, your heart rate generally stays at a nice, slow pace, unless Tiger Woods tees up behind you. “I would definitely go with a golf tour or golf package where I would be able to play at really nice professional courses. I am an avid golfer and it is one of my favorite past times,” said senior Samyuel Lichtenfels. If you’ve never golfed before, give it a try. You get to be outdoors smacking the shit out of a tiny ball while sipping on a beer. Sounds pretty nice to me.
8. Plan a Ski Trip
“I haven’t been skiing since I was little. When I graduate I can finally go to Vail Colorado and enjoy what I love the most,” said junior Alec Siomski. Shredding some powder in one of the world’s top ski locations sounds freeing, doesn’t it? If you feel uncomfortable speeding down a mountain on a piece of wood and fiberglass, stop worrying—spiked hot chocolate will erase your fears. During your visit, take advantage of all the professionals around you and book a lesson. Who knows—you might even shred more than a black diamond.
9. Start a Nonprofit
It’s never too late to make a difference in the world. “I am creating my own nonprofit so I would use the money to travel to Africa. While I am there, I would learn about the different cultures I am trying to help and assess their different needs,” said senior Farnese Motto. Motto says all she just needs to register her company’s name, copyright her written documents and start building a network to help her fundraise. If you have a passion for helping others, put your own skills to the test and cater towards a good cause.
10. Spend your Money on Adult Things
No one said a practical approach meant a boring approach. Your graduation money probably came from legit adults, so prove you join the ranks as one and spend your money on adult things. “I am a very realistic person. I would pay off the interest on my loans and then save the rest,” said senior Tiana Whiting. It’s important to recognize your priorities. Save your money now and let it mature. That way, you’ll have no problem doing anything on this list in the future.