OPINION: JC’S Declassified Alumni Survival Guide

JC Canicosa

In a university full of SoundCloud rappers, eccentric professors and Zoom classes, JC Canicosa— that’s me—and The Maroon try to do the impossible: create a guide that will help you survive Loyola. Your results may vary.

*cue theme song*

Wolf Pack, I was like you once. I survived living in a 2’ x 4’ shoe box in Biever Hall with another person for a whole school year. I planned my daily schedule around the OR dining hall hours more than my actual classes. I silently judged those kids who got into the crowded Monroe Hall elevators two minutes before class and had the audacity to get off at floor two (my blood’s boiling as I type out this sentence just thinking about it).

The only difference between you and me is that I got this little piece of paper in Blackletter font called “a degree” and now I’ve left the Pack and entered the workforce. And to quote a musician your generation loves, “it’s brutal out here.”

So I’m writing back to the Pack, two years removed from the comfort and security of Loyola’s brick walls and overenthusiastic Krewe leaders, to give you some tips on how to survive out in the real world. With 401K’s, stock buybacks, and dental insurance plan options (shudders).Not going to lie, for me, it was the hardest life adjustment I’ve ever made… especially because I started when COVID-19 had restaurants doing take-out only and professional sports were played in a bubble.

Just know I’ve been through the ringer. I navigated the post-college depression, the anxiety of feeling directionless in your early 20’s and the often boring minutiae of the 9-5 work life — and I made it.

So if you’re a senior anxious to start the next phase of your life in a few months or a freshman who’s curious about what comes after meal plans and scheduling classes, and you want to know how to survive adult life: here are some tips.

Tip 1: It’s totally fine to take some time for yourself right out of college

You know how some weeks in college, it feels like you’re in a constant state of work hard, play hard? Like, from Sunday to Sunday, you’re either studying, working, going out, working out, sitting in class, going to sorority/fraternity events, and maybe, MAYBE sleeping?
Well, maybe it’s time you took a breather.
Look, I totally understand the anxiety of feeling like you NEED to have a job or something lined up right out of college, but feeling like you need something lined up after college is just your fear of the unknown talking.
I get that it’s scary to not have a structured schedule for the first time since you were four, but it’s truly nothing to be scared of, I promise.
Zoom out for a second. You’re probably in your early 20’s, and you’re going to be a member of the workforce for a long, long time. You don’t have to be in such a rush to burn yourself out again.

Tip 2: Having a social life after college takes a lot more effort

It was easy to meet people when hundreds of young adults the same age as you lived in the same dorm area, went to the same bars, and/or worked on the same club activities. But after you cross the graduation stage, the structured social life of your time as an undergrad doesn’t cross with you.
Whether you’re moving back home, moving to a brand new city or staying put in New Orleans — chances are, your social circle is going to get a lot smaller.
And that’s not the worst thing in the world.
For me, it’s helped me see who my real friends are versus people I was just friends with because we lived close to each other freshman year or had similar class schedules.
And if you want to meet new people: find some hobbies, join some dating apps, get to know your neighbors or coworkers, go out to the new local bars, etc. Making friends after college is a lot harder, but it’s far from impossible. Just takes more effort.

Tip 3: Finding the right work-life balance is key

Remember what I said about not needing to be in a rush to burn yourself out? Well, keep remembering that even after you get your first job. High-paying salaries are nice and all, but what’s the point if you’re working 70-hour weeks or only get three weeks of vacation every year?
Companies LOVE entry level workers because they have no concept of how they should be treated yet. Well, if no one’s told you yet, you’re allowed to have a life outside of work and enjoy things when you’re not in the office.
Honestly, a lot of this depends if your boss is a jerk or not. If you’ve got a boss who understands how important mental health and a balanced work life is, then great. If your boss is a jerk, then you may have to struggle a bit more.

Tip 4: Don’t stress about life moving too fast, you’ve got a lot of time to be young and dumb

Gone are the days where men had to enter the workforce at 16, find a wife by 18, and start a family by 22. We’ve got much time to figure everything out and enjoy our 20’s.
And these days, our 20’s last until we’re like 35. Have you seen what the average 38-year-old looks like? It’s Donald Glover.
What I’m saying is we don’t need to stress about being on the right path or being behind a certain life schedule.
Our generation has the luxury of enjoying the “just winging it” stage of life for a lot longer than our parents did.

Tip 5: As Loyolans, we’ve got a built-in yearly reunion in Mardi Gras

After I abruptly left college in March 2020 after this thing called “Coronavirus” got really big, I didn’t see a lot of friends for a long, long time. They went on to move back home or start their lives in a brand new city — as did I.
So when Mardi Gras 2022 was given the all clear, and I saw friends on the parade route that I hadn’t seen in years — it was a special moment I’ll never take for granted.
So make sure you stay in touch with the Pack as much as you can because the joy of reuniting and having an old squad of friends back together again — there’s nothing like it.