A young friend of mine is currently in her senior year of college, where she is majoring in high school education. I guess you could say she was really “lucky” and came from a poor family. This meant that she qualified for a program through our state that provided free tuition, room and board, and money for textbooks and some incidental expenses for four years. Of course, there were stipulations to the program. She had to maintain a certain grade point average in high school and couldn’t have any run-ins with the law, such as alcohol or drugs. The program was also limited to state schools. But I fully realize (and I believe she does too) what an amazing opportunity this is for her to turn things around and get a great start in her adult life.
Congrats on Graduating… Now Comes the Hard Part
Her and I were talking a week or so ago about the transition from college to career. It’s going to take some careful planning. You see, she graduates college in April or May. However, teaching positions don’t start until August or September. That means a period of 4 to 5 months with either no job, a part-time job, or maybe a full-time summer job. I imagine that she’ll have a lot of interviews during those months, so I doubt the idea of working full-time will work. In the meantime, she has to pay for her living expenses during that time (moving back home isn’t a realistic option). This includes rent, utilities, food, etc. And once she does receive a job offer and start date, she’ll have to find new housing wherever the job is located. This means having money for a security deposit on an apartment and possibly on utilities as well. She’ll also have to purchase clothes and supplies for work. All this can easily add up to a lot of money, which she doesn’t really have.
I think a lot of college graduates run into a similar situation. I remember when I was going through my ill-fated job change, I met a guy during orientation at my new job that ran into this exact situation. He graduated in the spring, but the accounting firm doesn’t bring in their yearly crop of new hires until September. He mentioned that he’d been living for the past 4 or 5 months since graduation almost entirely on credit cards. By the time he started his job, he’d racked up several thousand dollars in credit card debt. This is something I really want my friend to avoid.
She’s been pretty smart with her money, but even at that, she hasn’t been able to save much. After all, she’s in college and doesn’t have time to work a job on top of everything she’s involved in. Coming from a poor family, she doesn’t receive much financial support from home (they are paying her car payment and insurance). The only money she receives is a check each semester from her scholarship program, but she does a good job of budgeting where it all has to go. She’s worked during the summers, and has managed to save some from that.
As her senior year unfolds, we’ll have more discussions about what she should do financially to help make the transition from college to career. It really is a pivotal time period, and far too many college graduates don’t plan for it at all. I think she’ll be ok, but it makes me quite grateful that I actually started my job during my senior year in college. I didn’t realize just how lucky I was not to have to worry at all about finding a job and making that transition.