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Elina Furman on Graduating College
Elina Furman travels to universities and organizations around the country to offer her insight and guidance to recent graduates, incorporating her theory on the “Boomerang Nation,” the phenomenon wherein individuals leave home, go to college and move back home after graduation. In addition to lecturing and consultant work, Furman is the co-author of The Everything After College Book: Real-World Advice for Surviving and Thriving on Your Own and Boomerang Nation: How to Survive Living with Your Parents…the Second Time Around. Furman offers up some advice on the first 30 days of graduating college.
What is the biggest challenge students face after college graduation?
This generation graduates with a lot of educational and credit card debt. Students are financially behind upon graduating, and they have to play catch-up with their finances. Students also graduate with unrealistic expectations, whether they’re too high, in regards to what they expect for a job, or too low, in not expecting enough. It can put a damper on your spirits. You have to realize it’s a long road and you have to manage those expectations.
Can you explain your “Boomerang Nation” theory and how it affects recent graduates?
A “boomeranger” is someone who goes to college away from home, graduates and moves back in with his or her parents. Financial debt has about 50% of college graduates moving back home. With the cost of living being so high and the low entry-level salaries, students realize that in order to live the lifestyle they want, they have to live at home and get financial assistance from parents.
How does moving back home affect recent graduates, versus those graduates who move out on their own?
Even though some people are still dependent on their parents when they move out, “boomerangers” have a direct dependency. It may affect their self-esteem and some may feel they are moving backward when they should be moving forward. To counter these feelings, you should contribute some rent and set a move-out deadline so you can stay on track with your goal of independent living.
What feelings can people expect during the first 30 days of graduating college?
The main feeling is being lost in uncertainty. You may not know what career you want, what kind of person you want to be, etc. College is very sheltered. Teachers and counselors all care about your welfare. The real world is less comforting and it’s a harsher reality.
What are some fears we may experience?
The main fear is that we are never going to get where we want to be. The “post-college crisis” comes in and recent graduates realize their life may not be the way they expected it. Everyone has gone through it, and your life may not be what you expected. But with time, you will become more comfortable with yourself.
What are the typical questions you hear from students during the first 30 days after graduation?
Mostly about career, including how to find a job and how to turn their degrees into successful careers. I’m also asked about graduate school and whether it’s a good option or just a way to get yourself into more debt.
What’s your best advice to graduating students about their new life?
- Get your finances in check. If they aren’t up to par, it’s going to affect your whole life.
- Don’t compete with other people. Some of your friends will have great jobs, but everyone takes a different life path. Don’t compare your level of success.
- Come up with your own definition of success. Make a plan for your life and find what makes you feel successful. Find your passions and goals to set your life on a course that has meaning for you, not everyone else.
Why are the first 30 days after college graduation so important?
The first 30 days sets the pattern for how you’re going to live your life. This time gives you a leg-up to get organized about where you want to be in life. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself; there’s room for mistakes.
How can students prepare themselves for life after college?
Talk to career counselors and utilize the resources at your school. Get yourself organized and make sure you figure out how you’re going to stay in touch with your friends, because you’re going to need them.
What things can we do to achieve successful results during this life change?
Have a to-do list, an action plan and network. It’s important to stay active and keep doing things to stay on track with your goals.
What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?
You have to think of all the times when you were uncertain about a change. Remember the moments when you didn’t have a roadmap and think back to how you got through it. Yes, the first two weeks or first 30 days were the hardest, but you should remind yourself that this, too, shall pass. There’s nothing to life that you won’t be able to manage; it’s just having the confidence to do so.
The best thing about change is...
…you never know if something better is going to happen on the other end. With change, you realize that a better you may come out of it.
What is the best change you have ever made?
When I decided, finally, that I was not going to work for other people. Once I made that leap—even though it was scary—things started to happen for me. Now I can’t imagine any other life for myself.
For more information on Elina Furman, visit www.elinafurman.com.