While every graduation is a milestone worth celebrating — each one special in its own right — college graduations mark the end of a significant chapter in a graduate’s life. It’s a goodbye to the last vestiges of childhood.
For graduates this year, the graduation season may not have been a conventional one, but it is still one that’s been hard-earned. Before you jump into a world of job applications and phone interviews, if you’re able, sit back and enjoy your accomplishments. You’ve earned it. After several years of sleepless nights, essays, and finals, you did it — you’re a college graduate!
As a new graduate, there are some things you can do to make the transition from college a smooth one. Here are the ones we’ve found most helpful.
Donate or Resell Your Textbooks
College textbooks are painfully expensive. Regardless of your major, you’ve probably spent hundreds on a single used textbook.
Make sure your professor will continue using the same book next year, then sell it to younger students rather than reselling it to the bookstore. You’ll probably get more money from a student than the bookstores, notorious for buying back their books for pennies on the dollar. More importantly, you’ll be helping a fellow student save big on their textbooks.
If you don’t need the extra money, consider paying it forward. Make a student’s day and give them the textbook for free.
This is a positive way to say goodbye to some of the stuff you won’t be needing anymore. For many, relieving yourself of your textbooks is also a cathartic experience.
If your professors will not be using the same books going forward, consider disposing of them in an environmentally friendly way. Give to your local library if they accept textbooks, donate to a thrift store like Goodwill or the Salvation Army, remove the hardcover and put in the recycling bin, or donate to Better World Books.
Better World Books is a great way to donate used books. They boast savings of up to 90%, so even if you can’t pay it forward to students at your school, you can still help out another student in need.
There are drop off locations across the United States and United Kingdom (you can find the nearest one here). Or, if you choose to donate more than three books, they’ll cover the shipping costs.
Regardless of how you choose to relieve yourself of your textbooks, it’s going to feel really good to get rid of that deadweight — both literally and figuratively. It also means fewer belongings you’ll be carting around, and you can have the satisfaction of having helped someone else gain access to a book that otherwise may have been unaffordable.
You just worked really hard for four (or more) years. Go ahead and treat yourself.
Allow yourself to celebrate your success. Take the leap and splurge on that one item you’ve had in your cart for months. Catch up on the shows you’ve been missing out on while studying, attend a virtual concert with friends, or start making plans for that dream trip you’ve been thinking about for years.
Throw a Party
Throw yourself a graduation celebration. Have a party of one on the couch with your drink of choice or throw a big bash with friends and fellow graduates online. Host a dinner party on Zoom, jump on Houseparty, create your own graduation parade, or take a virtual trip around the world.
It doesn’t have to be fancy unless you feel like swinging for the fences. Whatever you do, make sure you wear your cap, gown, and tassel proudly — and display any other achievements you’ve earned.
Finally, get a cake (or your preferred choice of celebratory food and drink). We can think of no occasion more fitting for great food and your favorite drink.
Get a Grown-Up Email Address
This one is at the top of the post-graduation list, and for good reason. If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to graduate to a bonafide grown-up email address. You can’t apply for jobs using “firstname.lastname@example.org“.
Your school email address will eventually be inactive, and using it comes with the implication that you’re still a student. Start with a clean slate. Sign up for a new email address — preferably, one that is simply your name. If your actual name is taken, add in a middle initial or try using only your first initial with your last name. You’re sure to come up with a solution.
And do yourself a favor: don’t resubscribe to all of those newsletters you were signed up for in the past. You never open them anyway. You owe it to yourself to remove the clutter and start fresh — and you definitely don’t want to miss an email from a potential employer.
Decorate Your Office
Whether you’re decorating a home office, a corner in your room, or planning ahead for a future office space, this is a fun exercise in establishing a workspace that’s 100% yours.
Keep in mind you don’t need to wait for an offer letter to start decorating. Job searching itself is a full-time job. Put yourself in the right headspace with items that encourage and inspire while you apply.
Hang artwork, your diploma, and anything else that puts a smile on your face. Put up a calendar of inspirational quotes, national parks, or dogs doing yoga. Don’t forget pictures of your pets — a must for any workspace. Look for office decor, printed pieces, and photos that make you excited to sit down and start working.
You’re going to spend quite a bit of time in this space, so you should enjoy it. Do whatever you can do to make this space feel brighter, happier, and more like yours.
Take the Opportunity to Give Back
Graduating from college is an extraordinary accomplishment. It’s also an excellent opportunity to give back to the community that supported you.
There are several ways to support your local community. Choose a cause that you’re passionate about. You’ll find it more enjoyable, and you’re more likely to stick with it long-term.
No matter what’s going on in the world, there are always ways to give back. Do a grocery run for those unable to leave their houses, make a financial contribution to local charities, or donate to the food bank.
You can also share your skills to make a difference. Hold virtual tutoring sessions, sew masks, or use your musical talents to provide some live entertainment.
Starting this habit now will help cement volunteering as a habit you do on a regular basis.
Print Your Diploma
It may come as a surprise, but your diploma is mailed to you several weeks or months after you take your last final. Before shipping out your certificate, your college must confirm that you’ve passed all your classes and completed all the credits required for your degree.
For many, this all-important piece of paper sits in its original envelope, boxed up in storage. Receiving your diploma is possibly the most difficult thing you’ve accomplished to date and deserves to be displayed.
If you want to preserve it for all time, scan it and print your diploma on glass. It’s less likely to be lost during a move, and won’t be affected by sun or water damage. If you’re looking for a more traditional framing route, there are diploma frames you can find at a local store or thrift shop as well.
Tell the story of your favorite memories from college. Include a photo of your first dorm room, or of you and your friends at an iconic campus location or favorite hangout spot. In addition to your diploma, order a traditional portrait wearing your cap and gown. Include your tassel in the display to show off your school colors — whatever makes sense for you and your personality.
Read for Pleasure
Reading something you actually want to read is a completely different experience than cracking open a book for class.
Now that you’ve graduated, you have time to sit down and enjoy a book that interests you. Spend some time catching up on the books you haven’t had time to read while you were studying, reading textbooks, and writing papers. Enjoy the feeling of lounging on the couch and getting lost in a good book.
If you don’t know where to start, check out Goodreads. Connect with friends and see what they’re reading, or check out one of Goodreads’ suggested reading lists. Try out best-selling books that were adapted into movies, like The Princess Bride, Fightclub, or The Martian. Read books focused on topics you’re passionate about, like your favorite sports team, or that are set in your favorite city.
Not sure if long-form novels or physical books are for you? Try comic books, short stories, audiobooks, eBooks, or even spoken word poetry. Once you find your niche, do a deep dive into books that redefined and revolutionized their genres, like sci-fi’s Dune and Lord of the Rings, or popularized their genres, like travel nonfiction’s Into Thin Air.
No matter what your cup of tea is, just enjoy yourself. You deserve it after all your hard work.
Make a Photo Book
There are no yearbooks in college — for most colleges, at least. And that’s kind of shame when you think about all the unforgettable memories you’ve created these past few years.
It may be the only time in your life that you’ll live in such close proximity to — or with — your closest friends. It’s a time when you discover who you are, test your own limits, and make friendships that will last a lifetime.
In other words, it’s the perfect chapter of your life to commemorate with a photo book. Put together something you can open when you’re feeling nostalgic or missing your friends. Include photos you don’t remember taking on nights you can’t forget — photos of your dorm room decorated for the holidays and game nights with friends. Anything that makes you smile is worth going in your homemade “yearbook.”
Graduation: A Significant Moment that Matters
Working toward a goal for several years and achieving it is a significant accomplishment that you should be proud of. While graduation ceremonies and celebrations look a little bit different this year, this is still a momentous occasion that deserves recognition.
If you’re choosing to commemorate this chapter in your life with some prints, we’d love to help you celebrate. A glass print is one of our favorite ways to cherish and remember monumental occasions like this. Take a few traditional cap and gown photos, but make sure and grab some candid shots as well. We’d love to see those decorated caps, the personal touches you’ve added to your gown, and the shot of your tassel being moved over.
However you’re able to celebrate — whether that’s with friends and family via Zoom, marching in your family home, or participating in a drive-in graduation — know what the entire world is wishing you the best, and cheering you on.