3 Bad Decisions That Too Many Recent College Grads Are Making

college degrees, multiracial graduates holding diploma

College degrees | iStock.com/michaeljung

Graduating college is an achievement. It requires discipline, tenacity, hard work, and let’s not forget to mention a hefty monetary investment. Students spend between four and five years learning about a specific discipline, researching and developing a theoretical understanding of a field.

At the end of it all comes graduation. And for a recent graduate, completing school is only just the beginning. He or she has to then begin the transition from being a college student into a career professional. The student earns his or her degree and is placed into a different, higher-level, category of job seekers. For some, this is a difficult transition. Here are a few mistakes that recent grads make when they first enter the job market.

1. Fools rush in

Did you (or would you) take the first decent-paying job you were offered?

Around the turn of the decade, the job market was tough for recent grads. And it remained difficult for quite some time. Things have finally started to turn back around, but for a while there, a college grad could not feel at all secure in knowing that he or she could obtain a career that matched his or her education level.

As recently as 2013, 41% of recent college grads (from the past two years) said they were working jobs that didn’t require a college degree, and more than half of grads (57%) said that finding a job during that time period (2011-2013) was difficult, according to a report by Accenture.

Still remembering this time, today’s grads may be inclined to take the first entry-level job that they’re offered. And this can be a mistake. Yes, it’s exciting, and even relieving, to be offered a job for the first time. The thought of financial independence takes over, and it can cause a person to make a rush decision. But, without taking the time to examine the position, salary, work-life balance, commute, perks, benefits, and growth opportunities that a company offers, you may end up working in a position that makes you unhappy.

2. Unprepared for the real world

Alicia Silverstone in Clueless

Alicia Silverstone in Clueless | Paramount

When you ask a person what the benefits of a college degree are, you’ll hear responses like “increased earnings power” and “preparation for the workplace.” But does a college degree guarantee those benefits? Probably not.

Bentley University surveyed high school students, college students, corporate recruiters, and business decision makers, asking them questions pertaining to college, and how they feel college prepares a person for the real world. There was some large variations in the responses across these different groups.

For instance, 60% of high school students and 52% of college students said they feel that college is virtually a guarantee of success in life. However, fewer than 30% of business decision makers agreed with this sentiment.

Some college grads become overly focused on conquering and achieving, instead of realizing that success is an ongoing process. The degree is what gets your foot in the door, and proves that you have enough smarts and work ethic to be a valuable asset. It is only the beginning of a long journey through professional development — one that everyone rides along.

The majority of people across all age groups recognize this issue, as 62% of respondents in the Bentley report see the level of preparedness among recent college grads as a real problem in America today. What’s more, around six-in-10 business leaders say this lack of preparedness among college grads harms the organization’s productivity, and day-to-day business functions.

So, who’s to blame?

When Bentley asked college grads who is to blame for the lack of preparedness across this group, 60% of recent grads said they should blame themselves, 42% said they should blame colleges and universities, 31% said they should blame businesses, and 13% said they should blame professors. And, perhaps all of these responses are somewhat correct.

But, for a job seeker who can only control his or her own actions, it’s a good idea to take measures to prepare one’s self in any way possible. That is: take seminars, take on internships, and be ready and willing to learn.

3. Lacking complete professionalism

Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher

Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher | Source: Columbia Pictures

The career decisions people make early on can have a long-term impact on their professional success. From posting an unprofessional picture on social media, to talking about a night out getting drunk, to telling inappropriate jokes, these types of things can come back and haunt a person later.

Numerous studies of the strengths and weaknesses of millennials cite workplace etiquette as a known weakness. Real Truth explains that while this group has many strengths, “many Millennials lack discretion — prudence — what was once called common sense. They know that once an image, sound bite or email is posted to the Web, it’s there forever. Yet the Internet has become a dumping ground for recording the most embarrassing, crude and shocking moments of people’s lives.”

More from Money & Career Cheat Sheet: