Life after College
A Return to Dating
MTV's hit reality series, The Real World, places seven 18–24-year-olds in a house where cameras film everything they do over a four-month period. The men and women who are chosen to be on the show come from various parts of the country and are previously unknown to one another. These strangers are then thrust together, sharing everything from bedrooms to bathrooms. The seasons are fairly predictable with episodes depicting the housemates: getting drunk, developing crushes, making out, arguing, partying, and having sex. This is certainly not the real world, but it does seem a lot like the way many of the people I interviewed described college life. Millions of young men and women will never get the opportunity to be on this show, but they can choose to have that kind of experience (minus the cameras) as a resident on campus. But, inevitably, the college students who graduate each year must abandon their college campus to enter the real, real world.
Across the board, recent graduates I spoke with talked about the transition from college life as a major change in their lives. After graduation, many moved back to their parents' homes; others moved to apartments, which they shared with friends from college. For some, leaving school meant no longer residing in the state where the college is located, and those who did remain nearby were nevertheless removed from campus. Graduation also signified the start of their postcollegiate careers. Many got their first full-time jobs and were taking on financial responsibilities for the first time. New work demands and living in a new place meant a dramatic change in the graduates' day-to-day activities and social lives. No longer were masses of their peers around all the time. The lack of camaraderie and leisure time after college made the transition very difficult for some. Many felt their lives changed overnight, and others described the change as a process that took a few