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Crucial compromising for post-college couples

By Erica Sylvester Campus Talk editor
On April 25, 2012

The two biggest issues facing college students after graduation are figuring out where you're going to live and where you're going to work. These two problems rely heavily on the other, and it's a process almost every college student will encounter. Consider it your initiation into the real world.

This situation becomes increasingly problematic if you're in a relationship with someone and there's no clear solution. So, what do you do?

This is one of the most important conversations you will have with your partner. You should discuss your ideal post-graduation job and the locations you would be willing to move to. Are you willing to move out of state? How far? Or would you prefer to stay close to home and family? If you have different goals, you need to discuss them and figure out how to compromise.

This is essentially what it boils down to. You don't have to break up if you have different dreams in mind, but you both have to find some middle ground you're willing to work with. If neither of you are prepared to sacrifice for your mutual future, you're probably doomed to break up anyway.

The length of time you've spent together is important. Couples who have been together for years are likely to be more comfortable and secure in their relationship than couples who have only been together a few months. If you started dating during your senior year, you're going to be more unsure of your mutual future together. You aren't signing your life away by choosing to stay together and it's just as easy to end a relationship after college if you desire to.

If you're graduating and your partner is still in school, this could delay your post-graduation plans. You could pursue your dream job, but who knows where that could take you? Are you willing to have a long distance relationship for months or years at a time? Or do you put your dreams on hold for a year and pick up a job locally while you wait for your partner to graduate? If there's an age gap of a few years, would your partner consider transferring to a school in the city where you work? Many education graduates move south because it's easier for them to find teaching jobs. Though Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse are all within driving distance of Brockport, you have to consider if it's even possible for you to begin the next step of your career in western New York.

Graduate school is another option. Because graduate programs are more specific, and not every graduate school offers the program you may desire, this could easily impact where one, or both of you, ends up after graduation.

If you and your partner are both graduating this May, you may be applying for jobs in different cities. You may each manage to find a job that benefits your future, but they might not always be in the same location. You could try to make a long distance relationship work, or you could choose to prioritize your relationship above your future. It's a tough choice to figure out which one of you will sacrifice a great opportunity, and some resentment could be felt afterward. Neither of you just spent four years at college just to settle on your dreams. You both deserve to strive for them.

If you met at Brockport, you've adjusted to seeing each other on a regular basis or may even be living together already. Living hours apart may be harder for you after graduation and may be an adjustment you've never experienced but will have to get used to. You may have to live alone in a foreign city and the post-graduation life can seem daunting and intimidating. You can try to avoid this situation by applying to jobs in the same cities or by picking the location first and trying to find jobs later.  It may take you longer to find a job, but at least you'll have established a home together.

Another alternative to consider is having an obvious breadwinner in the relationship. Though it's possible to be successful in any field, I can safely say some career opportunities have more financial security than others. It's uncontestable that the starting salary for a job in a medical, engineering or law-related field is going to be higher than in a journalism one. If there are clear discrepancies between salaries, it's not unheard of for couples to rely on one person's future plans more than the other. You aren't "settling" because the compromise could benefit the couple more in the long run.

I think a lot of students hear the word "graduation" and immediately think about the life they'll lead right after it. Yes, we'll be thrust into the real world and it may be a wake-up call for some, but at the end of the day, the months and years after college are still a transitional period. You will find a job, get married and have kids, but those milestones don't have to happen in the mere weeks following your commencement.

In any case, you should talk about how you plan to tackle student loans. Will one of you cover both? Will you each pay for your respective schooling? Or will you both work off each debt together?

Some couples need to go their own way and follow their individual dreams. Others choose to take the marriage route and cement their lives together. Whether you follow suit or not, you aren't wrong. Every couple is different and it's entirely your choice to make. Welcome to the real world. You don't have to do what people suggest or advise. Live and learn and love - and make it your own.

 

Most suggestive U.S. cities

 

For couples and singles alike

 

Sweet Lips, Tenn.

 

Imalone, Wis.

 

Left Hand, W.Va.

 

Romance, Ark.

 

Rough and Ready, Calif.

 

Horneytown, N.C.

 

Virginville, Pa.

 

Cumming, Ga.

 

Fidelity, Mo.

 

Blue Ball, Ohio

 

Bald Knob, Ark.

 

Ding Dong, Texas

 

Spread Eagle, Wis.

 

Three Way, Ariz.

 

Climax, Colo.

 

French Lick, Ind.

 

Sac City, Iowa

 

Shafter, Ky.

 

Beaverville, N.J.

Follow Sylvester on Twitter @ESylv23


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