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Savvy Lifestyle Moves for College Grads

If you just graduated from college and are about to celebrate commencement, now is the time to begin planning your post-graduation life. The luckiest grads already have jobs lined up and are ready to get started on their new careers. Others, particularly those still in their senior years, have yet to decide on a specific course of action. What are the smartest moves to make during the final year of school or in the months immediately following graduation?

Besides refinancing education loans based on a new financial situation, many graduates choose to enter the education field as instructors at the K-12 or college level. Entrepreneurial types prefer to start businesses. Many youngsters with fresh diplomas in hand head to law school or enroll in doctoral programs to earn advanced degrees. Finally, those who wish to find suitable employment as soon as possible work with career agents to move the process along. Here are pertinent details about each strategy.

Become a Teacher


There’s been a national teacher shortage for about five years. New grads can pretty much take their pick of districts, grade levels, and subjects. For those willing to teach in K-12, there are some certification hurdles, but it’s possible to be student-teaching in a classroom within a few months of leaving college. To land a position in a college or university, candidates need specialized backgrounds in particular subjects. However, most who hold business, liberal arts, or any STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) diplomas can find work in community colleges or universities.

Refinance Your Loans

One of the smartest things a young person can do after graduating is to refinance their education loans. Once they get jobs are work for a few months, the major credit bureaus include them on the financial radar. Then, as they pay their debts and earn a regular income, it’s possible for former college students to refinance loans and get much more favorable terms. Not only does refinancing open the door to lower monthly payments, but borrowers can get more time to repay the entire balance and other advantages that come with having a work history. Those who refinance student loans end up with a completely new agreement and a fresh start.

Enroll in a Doctoral or Law School Program


Earning a Ph.D. is a long haul, but the journey begins with enrollment in a doctoral program. Entry is highly competitive, but the degree opens doors to a huge number of professional pathways. For those who wish to become professors or instructors in grad schools, universities, or colleges, a Ph.D. is one of the fastest ways to win a spot on a faculty.

Expect to spend between three and seven years getting the degree, and don’t rule out working in private industry, where PhD-holders command excellent salaries and are in short supply. Every year, thousands of new graduates compete for entry into law school by taking the LSAT exam. Successful candidates spend three years, sometimes less for accelerated programs, qualifying to sit for the bar exam in their chosen state of practice.

Start a Business

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Independent entrepreneurship is currently experiencing a growth spurt at every level. Small and medium-sized businesses founded by new grads are sprouting up in every industry thanks to the internet. Those who choose to operate their own companies should be ready to think like an entrepreneur, raise seed money for the startup phase, invest whatever savings they can muster, and spend at least a year getting the enterprise into top shape.

Sign Up with a Job Search Firm

Colloquially known as head-hunting firms, job search companies can serve as a one-stop shop for recent grads who are looking for work. As a rule, the services do not charge jobseekers any fees at all. The firms’ compensation comes from companies that hire prospective candidates. Why do so many young adults use head-hunting agencies?

In addition to helping with resumes, the search firm’s staff offers coaching for live interviews, gives advice about how to dress, and more. Note that you will likely be asked to sign a non-competition agreement, meaning you cannot work with other search companies at the same time.

Another important thing to know is that some agreements include a clause that requires you to repay a portion of fees and charges if you leave a new job within the first year of employment. Be sure to read the fine print on contracts before signing.

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