Four Ways in Which Life in the Real World Will Differ from Life in College
August 15, 2015

Attending college is certainly worth it. The numbers back this fact too. Data from the Pew Research shows that the median annual earnings for 25- to 32-year-olds with a bachelor’s degree was $45,000 as of 2012. In comparison, people of the same age group having only a high school diploma only earned about $28,000.

For many students, life in college serves as a transition from being dependent to being independent. This is especially the case for students who are attending on-campus without any additional commitments, such as family, part-time jobs etc. Despite its numerous benefits, the fact remains that life in college is very different from the real world. Erika Rawes details four differences that exist between life in college and life in the real world.

1. Your Job Will Not Be Anything Like the Subject You Majored In: Degrees are useful for opening the doors to various jobs. They give you a basic understanding of the topic, to enable you to become successful in whichever position you eventually select within a specific field. But they cannot cover every single job around.

In 2014, a CareerBuilder study revealed that 36 percent of college graduates wished they had majored in a different subject. The same study also found that a third of all college-educated workers work in occupations outside of their majors. How’s that for irony?

2. You Get Second Chances at College, Not Necessarily at the Workplace: You might get nightmares about failing in a feared subject. But, colleges often allow students to re-take courses without much consequence. Similarly, colleges also are far more lenient when it comes to dealing with late policies and missed assignments. This is in stark contrast to what happens at the workplace.

If an employee’s work continues to be below par or does not meet expectations, the organization won’t think twice about firing that employee. Repeat submissions are not par for the course at the workplace.

3. You Might Have a Major in a Specific Subject, But You’re Not an Expert: Many students have the impression that once they finish they degrees, they are the experts on a given subject. The real world demolishes this myth very easily. There is no bigger classroom than the classroom of life and once you’re in, learning remains a continuous process. Even students who continually challenge themselves will need to keep acquiring new information.

Recently, The New York Times published data from a book titled Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. The authors of the book had established that 32 percent of students did not take any courses that involved reading more than 40 pages per week in a typical semester. Similarly, the authors also found that 50 percent of the students did not take a single course in which they needed to write more than 20 pages over the duration of the semester. With numbers like that, it’s hardly a surprise that life is a journey involving constant learning.

4. Your Life After College Will be More Settled and Stable: College students often find life exciting. This is because they usually have a number of things to do. From socializing and partying to doing part-time jobs and studying, their lives are action-packed.

Once students move out of college, the focus shifts toward building a career and having a family. As such, a routine of stability develops, whereby people start appreciating the benefits of having a good work-life balance. This balance is typically absent in the lives of many college students. This doesn’t mean that “normal life” is dull and boring. But, it also doesn’t mean that the highs of college life are the ideal standards you need to maintain for the rest of your life.