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The Ultimate Guide to Thriving in Life After College

Wondering how to survive after college? We've got your ultimate guide.

When you’re a second-semester senior, your calendar from mid-May on into infinity looks like a big, gaping, black hole — even if you have an idea of where you’ll land once you cross that stage and shake that hand and kiss that hard-earned diploma.

No matter if you’re headed to law school or your parents’ basement or a post-grad service year or an accountancy firm, there are a ton of questions ahead. Have no fear — we’re here to help.

Making decisions

Isn’t that what adults do? Make decisions all day? Well, sorta.

But deciding on a work task isn’t exactly like deciding what to do with your life. Which makes this season of life a great time to ask, What is discernment? Answer: discerning God’s will is a way to find your calling in life. (It might help to seek the confluence of three things in vocation discernment: what you’re good at, what you enjoy doing, and what you can contribute to others.)

Even if you’re not looking for an existential answer, there is some wisdom to be found in these tips for making big life decisions.

Finding a job

Even if you have employment lined up, you’ll likely find yourself looking for some job-hunting tips in the years ahead.

You’re going to want to stand out in a pile of résumés, so here are four essential job application tips — from researching salary to preparing an elevator pitch — to make sure you land in something life-giving. And if you don’t, you can resume your search for your ideal position by finding a job in a different career.

Living on a budget

You’re on your own now — time to officially become financially independent from your parents — a fact that will come painfully clear when those student loan bills start rolling in.

Living on a budget doesn’t mean you have to feel the pinch, though — our free budget spreadsheet will show you how to live on a budget and make room for a little fun and luxury where you can. (And don’t forget to save with these financial actions to take before you’re 30!)

Finding a deal

When you’re starting from scratch, every penny has to count, which probably means you’ll want to learn how to find deals.

Maybe you’re already familiar with tips for thrift shopping, but with those new work responsibilities, you might want to level up and learn how to build a wardrobe on a budget.

And finding a deal isn’t always about the money — convenience and time investment should factor into your decision, too, especially when you’re thinking about big-ticket items, like when you’re trying to figure out if it’s better to buy or lease a car.

Food

When your mom’s worried that you might starve, tell her to relax — you have dinner lined up for the whole week because you learned how to meal prep.

If you’re not the plan-ahead type, you can still eat better than ramen — join your store’s shopper’s club for deals and stretch that Chipotle order into two meals as you master the art of eating on a budget.

And when you’re ready for some comfort food, you can always invite someone over for pie with these fun baking recipes to make with friends. (Who doesn’t like pie?)

Prayer

If you’ve been around a faith community at college, that scene is going to change dramatically after graduation (even if you’re new to thinking about faith, looking for some help from a higher power when you’re transitioning to life in the “real world” couldn’t hurt, could it?).

Prayer has proven health benefits, never mind that it puts you in touch with the Author of creation. If you’re looking for ways to improve your prayer life, consider these Catholic prayer apps to get the ball rolling with God (and if you’re a beginner, try this app for prayer and meditation).

And we have some out-of-the-box ways to pray, including a Pope Francis journal on holiness that might just help you find the way faith brings light to a dark world.

Moving to a new city and community

Starting over in a new city signals a new stage in life, and it’s all the more daunting when you dive into city life without the friends you’ve gathered over the past several years (btw, here are some creative ways to stay in touch with friends after college.)

Whether you’re looking for long distance relationship advice or trying to simply learn how to make friends with your neighbors, we have resources that can help you preserve the value of community.

Though you’ll get to know people through your job, you’re gonna want to have a social life outside of work — here are some ideas on how to form young adult community wherever you land.

Adulting

Moving into a new phase of life as a bona fide grown-up means re-examining yourself and your values. It’s a great time to make intentional choices — we suggest a few books about how to adult — and set yourself on a trajectory for healthy and sustaining habits with these self-care basics.

And don’t forget to make room in the grind to learn how to play as an adult.

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