16 Books Every College Grad Should Read

Originally written for and published on Her Campus on July 6, 2015.


Adjusting to post-college life can be rough—you may be done with classes, homework and finals, but you’ve come to the realization that it’s no longer socially acceptable to wear sweatpants every day, make dinner in a microwave, and binge-watch Netflix every night—even if it was okay to do so just a few months ago. You’re not the only one! That’s why I’m directing you right to the pros. Here are 16 books every recent grad should read, by everyone from career experts to fellow post-collegiettes.

1. Welcome to the Real World by Lauren Berger

Welcome to the Real World, by Lauren Berger of InternQueen.com, is a must if you’re looking for or starting your first job. It’ll provide you with valuable information you’ll want to know before taking your first step into adulthood. Berger emphasizes the importance of taking risks and having a strong understanding of who you are and what you can bring to a company as a potential new employee. “It’s time to get comfortable getting uncomfortable,” she advises. This book will help you build a strong foundation—by the time you finish reading it, you’ll have a great understanding of what to expect from a full-time job.

2. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

A ton of schools host events where professors give talks they like to call their “Last Lecture.” For these lectures, professors discuss what matters most to them and share their wisdom as if it were truly their last lecture. Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer when he was asked to give his “last lecture.” However, Paush’s lecture wasn’t about dying—it was about living. It explores why it’s important to strive to overcome every challenge you face in life and how to seize every moment. Pausch’s The Last Lecture will help you see the world in a new light. His philosophies and life lessons emphasize the importance of striving to make the most out of your life, something that all college grads should aim to achieve.

3. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

Marina Keegan graduated magna cum laude from Yale University in May 2012. She was on the road to success. She wrote a play that was scheduled to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and had a job lined up at The New Yorker after graduation. Tragedy struck just five days after Keegan graduated when she died in a car crash. After her passing, her unforgettable essay for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral and received over 1.4 million hits. Regardless of her young age, Marina managed to leave behind a valuable piece of writing that captures the aspirations and abilities of our generation. This book is thought-provoking and will help you figure out what you aspire to be and how to harness your talent to make an impact on the world.

4. What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles

What Color Is Your Parachute? sold more than ten million copies—and we totally get why. This book provides you with up-to-date information, research and tips regarding the job market, how to write resumes and cover letters, effective networking tips, how to negotiate your salary and strategies you should follow to find those jobs people tell you don’t exist.

5. Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown

The back of the book states, “If you graduated from college but still feel like a student… if you wear a business suit to job interviews but pajamas to the grocery store… if you have your own apartment but no idea how to cook or clean… it’s OK. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Just because you don’t feel like an adult doesn’t mean you can’t act like one.” We don’t know about you, but this certainly seems to apply to the majority of graduettes! This funny book makes the scary “real world” seem totally conquerable. Whether you’re looking for simple recipes, networking advice or tips on how to be taken seriously at work, this book has your answers. It’s pretty much the handbook to have by your side as an aspiring grown-up entering the real world.

6. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

We all know how hard life can be sometimes, but what we sometimes overlook is how truly great it can be, too. Sugar—a once-anonymous online advice columnist—was everyone’s go-to person for advice. Tiny Beautiful Things is an aggregation of the best of Dear Sugar. This book teaches you lessons through a tough-love tone of voice. You’ll be laughing and gaining valuable insight on all the the challenges life can throw your way.

7. The First Apartment Book: Cool Design for Small Spaces by Kyle Schuneman

What’s scarier than moving into your very first apartment? How about moving into your first apartment before you can actually afford an apartment big enough to live in comfortably? Your first apartment lets you have full control of what you want to do with your space, but it can be a little tricky to decorate. Luckily, Kyle Schuneman, a decorating prodigy, understands that a non-existent income and plain, white walls don’t have to stand in your way. He provides excellent examples of ways to take a small space and turn it into a cozy place you’re proud to call home.

8. Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is the COO of Facebook. She uses this book to share her knowledge on how to avoid common obstacles and advance your career. An excellent read for women who have recently graduated, Lean In teaches how to strive toward your aspirations and career goals. When the book first came out in 2013, it became a phenomenon for empowering women. This book’s combination of inspiration and advice is what makes it such a powerful tool for young women.

9. Graduates in Wonderland: The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale

These two women—best friends since the moment they met during their freshman year at Brown University—made a promise to keep in touch after graduation through emails full of all the juicy details of their post-college adventures. One moves to Beijing while the other heads to New York. Both girls spend the next few years battling their way through adulthood and composing emails to another regarding all their exciting tales. This book is an easy, fun read that you will not want to put down. The emails between the two authors are exciting to read and recent graduates will find themselves able to relate to the authors’ stories and experiences in ways that are happy, sad, funny and exhilarating.

10. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Just because you’ve graduated doesn’t mean you should stop learning. And who better to help you learn than Stephen King himself? He is a true storyteller and uses this book to share his expertise and his story on how his writing got to be where it is now. Gia Gallone, a recent graduate from Rowan University with a love for writing, believes this book is a great tool to help anyone looking to strengthen his or her writing. “Stephen King is an amazing writer. If you’re looking for a book to read that will help you enhance your writing abilities, definitely check out this book,” she recommends.

12. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell believes success is a combination of opportunity and time spent on a task. He is a believer in the 10,000-hour rule: that it takes approximately 10,000 hours to master anything. In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Gladwell takes you on a journey through the world of “outliers”—the best and the brightest, the famous and successful. He focuses on what makes these people different. He believes we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from. This book is a great eye-opener, filled with stories and lessons weaved together into one valuable, interesting book.

13. Put Your Dream to the Test by John C. Maxwell

“What’s the difference between a dreamer and someone who achieves a dream?” Dr. John Maxwell believes you will find the answer to this question after answering ten questions. This book provides you with a step-by-step plan to identify, follow, and eventually reach your dream. This is a perfect book to read after graduating when your dreams and possibilities are endless!

14. Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want by Jenny Blake

Life After College serves as a guide written specifically for recent grads and young professionals. Jenny Blake, popular blogger and life coach, uses a combination of anecdotes, insight and inspirational quotes to help readers focus on the big picture of many different aspects of life: work, money, home, friends & family, organization, dating & relationships, health, fun, relaxation and personal growth. This read will leave you feeling confident, inspired and ready to take action toward building the life you want. You’ll be embarking on your big post-college journey in no time with this manual by your side.

15. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Remember when we mentioned it’s no longer acceptable to make dinner in your microwave? Well, with that being said, now is a great time to invest in a handful of cookbooks. Pinterest is a great tool to use for finding recipes, but having cookbooks at home will help you improve your cooking abilities even further. Bittman has a whole series of How to Cook Everything books with over 4,000 recipes, ranging from holiday recipes, easy weekend recipes, vegetarian recipes and quick and simple recipes. Check them out!

16. The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke by Suze Orman

Last, but certainly not least, every graduette needs to manage her finances… or lack thereof. You know all those money-related topics we all try our best to avoid thinking about: credit card debt, student loans, credit scores and insurance? Well, get ready to face it head-on. The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke is a great guide to read when you don’t know where to begin when it comes to budgeting, personal finances and every other not-so-popular money topic.


Spend some time this summer reading these books and you’ll be a real-world pro in no time! We promise.


Read the full article on Her Campus!

Swiping Right for the Wrong Reasons

The concept is simple — if you like the person’s picture, you swipe right. If you don’t, you swipe left. If you and another swipe right on each other’s photo, it’s a match. You can now begin a conversation with this person.

Tinder is a free mobile application for iOS and Android devices that allows the user to communicate with mutually interested users based on location. By matching people who mutually like each other, it reduces the user’s chance of rejection. The application was released on Sept. 12, 2012 by Sean Rad, Justin Mateen and Jonathan Badeen. Initially, the application was available only to the University of Southern California, but it quickly expanded to other college campuses and the general public.

Tinder uses your Facebook profile to collect your information and photos. It then tries to display candidates to you who it believes is compatible based on mutual Facebook friends, geographical location and common interests. Since its official release, Tinder is now available in 30 languages and as of April 2015, users swipe through 1.6 billion profiles and have more than 26 million matches every day.

In March 2015, Tinder released an update to the public that instilled an algorithm that limits the number of “right swipes” a user can make in a 12 hour time period. Many Tinder users were annoyed with this new algorithm limiting their number of swipes, but the implementation proved to be beneficial for the application’s users. Shortly after the update occurred, TechCrunch published a report examining the positive effects the new limitation had on Tinder users. “Ten days into launch [of the update], Tinder is seeing a 25 percent increase in the number of matches per right swipe, and a 25 percent increase in the number of messages per match. Plus, spam bots have decreased more than 50 percent since launch.”

Unfortunately, like most dating applications, Tinder has a lot of social stigma behind it.

The idea of matching up with someone solely based on looks makes people feel embarrassed to admit they use the application for anything more than just entertainment purposes. Because of this, Tinder is seen as a joke and isn’t viewed as a serious means of finding a potential partner for a new relationship. This has led to people creating parody accounts that mock Tinder, such as Tinder Nightmares on Instagram. It showcases conversations people have had through Tinder that ended up as, well, a nightmare.

In college towns, however, students view Tinder as a way people can find potential “hookups” for the night. Through an online survey distributed to college students across the United States, I found that 99.4 percent of respondents have used or know another student who has used Tinder. Out of the 155 survey respondents, 61 percent of people believe the purpose of using Tinder is to look for hookups at school. One respondent even believes that people use Tinder as “window shopping for girls or hookups.”

What do you think of tinder

However, the survey revealed that this hookup ideal is inaccurate. Out of the 155 respondents, only 20 percent reported to using Tinder for hookup purposes. This reinforces the idea that Tinder’s social stigma and negative reputation is simply incorrect.

Tinder Survey Results-2

In contrast, 12 percent of respondents answered that they have been in a relationship that started through the Tinder app. And of that 12 percent, almost half are still in that relationship.

One respondent addressed the issue behind Tinder’s stigma. “I think Tinder could be a really great way to meet people in this digital age, but most people don’t take it seriously because everyone jokes about it being for hookups.”

Another respondent doesn’t like to admit she uses the application for relationship purposes because people view her as shallow for judging men solely on appearance. “But isn’t it the same thing as approaching someone you find attractive at a bar? If it didn’t have the stereotype of being a hookup app, I think it would be a great way to meet new people and potentially start a relationship.”

Rosie Kelly, a senior advertising major at Rowan University, runs a blog called Hookup Culture. Hookup Culture exposes students at Rowan University talking about relationships and sex in college and encourages the idea that, despite our generation’s stereotype of not being able to communicate and form meaningful relationships, we are capable of these things and are actually very open about relationships. Kelly conducts interviews with students to get material for the blog and also writes feature articles that have to do with relationships, break-ups and dating for our generation.

Kelly spoke to Her Campus Rowan in regard to her blog’s purpose and said, “We all go through heart breaks and are constantly swiping through Tinder and I don’t think it’s something that has to be kept a secret. Hookup Culture and other blogs like it let people know that we’re all thinking the same thing.”

“My main message is really that we are so much more than a hookup culture. Older generations tend to believe all we do is have one night stands, we can’t communicate because of social media and texting and that we never form meaningful relationships.  I believe all of that is wrong. We are more focused on our careers and futures, so it’s true that fewer people decide to settle down in college. However, we are extremely capable of communicating and forming relationships, just in a different and more evolved way than our elders.”

Through a personal interview with Kelly, she told me she believes “Tinder is just another form of communication for our generation. We meet people by following them on Twitter, talking to them in class, friending them on Facebook, saying hi at the bar or even matching on Tinder. It has a stigma that it’s used for hookups but I don’t think that’s true. Most people use it out of boredom, to talk to someone or maybe to date.”

Tinder is a powerful tool students use versus the typical online dating websites, such as Match.com. Just because something is seen as a tool for hooking up, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken seriously as a way to meet new people and form meaningful relationships.

Why use tinder

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Paving the Road to Success

In order to maintain the United States’ leadership position in our global economy, President Barack Obama proposed reforming our community colleges in hope of providing Americans the chance to learn the skills and knowledge necessary to compete for jobs. His proposal, the American Graduation Initiative, would allow an additional five million people who meet the requirements to graduate from a community college by 2020.

This is a big deal for college-aged Americans hoping to earn a degree, but others are affected as well. The American Graduation Initiative is projected to cost $12 billion. Funding needs to go toward expanding the size of campuses, the number of classrooms, the number of professors who need to be paid and the supplies and resources the colleges provide to students, such as computer labs suitable for a large number of students. To obtain this $12 billion, Obama plans to increase the maximum Pell grant and education tax credits to ease financial pressure on students.

According to whitehouse.gov, The Recovery Act is Obama’s plan to cushion the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression and lay a new foundation for economic growth. The American Association of Community Colleges published a fact sheet on the initiative which states, “The Recovery Act increased Pell Grants by $500 to $5,350 and created the $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit for four years of college tuition. Now, the Administration is working to make these policies permanent and ensure the Pell Grant continues to grow faster than inflation. Together, the Recovery Act and president’s budget call for nearly $200 billion in college scholarships and tax credits over the next decade.”

Emily Bussman, a freshman at Rowan College at Gloucester County, believes that although community college will be free, it won’t change whether people are motivated to earn a degree. “If they aren’t motivated, money won’t change their own personal mindset,” she says.

According to The Hechinger Report, a publication covering innovation and inequality in education, only one in five students who enroll in community college graduates in three years. Lack of motivation from students pushed the United States from first to 10th in the world in proportion of the population that has graduated from college.

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“I think it’s great Obama wants to offer potential students the opportunity to go to community college for free, but that doesn’t change the fact that there aren’t jobs available for them to fill after they graduate,” says Sarah Hoffman, a sophomore at Raritan Valley Community College in Somerset County, NJ. “I’m stressed over the idea that even though I put in the time and effort to earn a degree, that doesn’t guarantee me a job. Allowing anyone to earn his or her degree will just mean the value of a degree is basically worthless.”

U.S. Rep Virginia Foxx, who chairs the White House higher-education subcommittee, questioned Obama’s graduation goals. “A college degree doesn’t do any good if there aren’t any jobs. I think it’s important that people finish college, but the major reason people go to college is to get a job. I think the president should be focusing a whole lot more on creating an environment that allows for job creation,” says Foxx.

Another aspect to look at is how this affects those who are already in college and paid to get there. Greg Demkowicz, owner of Correct Electric, LLC. in Washington, NJ, believes this will harm the classroom environment for current students.

“The GPA requirements of students to maintain free education are low. Instead of focusing on the students who truly want to study hard and succeed, we will be providing a subsidy for those with less motivation and initiative. Having a bunch of people with degrees by 2020 does nothing for the students or the country. Obama needs to focus on making students smarter. That’s what our country should be striving for by 2020,” says Demkowicz. “This is a slap in the face of all the students who paid for their education. These students, with the desire to learn and succeed, will be placed in the same class as those receiving the subsidy, who may only be there because it’s free. Are the professors going to have to dumb down lectures just so the unmotivated students pass the course? Great. Now the students who truly want to learn will not be able to reach their potential because the lecture didn’t challenge them.”

President Obama is paving the road for future college students with good intentions, but, according to critics of the plan, further research should be done on the adverse effects before laying the pavement.




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How to Stay Organized This Semester – Student Organization Tips

College is the time where you go out on your own and develop your own routine. There is nobody hovering over you to make sure you get things done, it’s all on you now. But don’t stress, this doesn’t have to be difficult. It all comes down to how you handle this change, and I promise you that being organized makes college a lot easier! I’m pretty confident when I say I excel in organization, planning and time management (since everyone laughs at me for it), so I decided to share some of my organization tips and secrets to help make sure your college experience is nothing but smooth sailing.


Computer Organization

  • No more needle in a haystack — Create a folder for each class to store all your documents. Saving everything to one location will confuse you. You’ll be thankful you kept everything separate later on when you’re looking for a particular file.
  • What is “asdfghjkl.doc”? — Name your files accordingly. This way, you know what each file is without having to open it up. Many computers have a search feature (Spotlight on Macs for example), so if you’re looking for your research paper, type in “research paper” and voila, you found it!
  • Tag, you’re it! — Your Mac’s Finder has a tag feature. Use it. For example, I have tags labeled: to be read, portfolio pieces, yearbook, internship, PRSSA, and important. You can assign multiple tags to one file or even to folders. And they’re color coded! 🙂
  • Back, back, back it up. —  Invest in an external hard drive to back up your computer files (and actually remember to back it up frequently). If you don’t want to pay for an external hard drive, you can use a cloud-based storage system such as Dropbox and put copies of important files there.  Better safe than sorry, right?
  • Use it or lose it — If you don’t need old files on your computer, trash them. They’re just taking up storage space on your hard drive. Oh, and remember to periodically empty your trash.
  • Sync or swim — Every computer has a calendar, or some way to access a calendar. I think you know what I’m going to say next … actually use this calendar. Then, set it to sync with the calendar on your phone so you always have your schedule with you and will never forget an appointment or meeting.


Class and Study Organization

  • Syllabus week — For college students, the first week of classes is known as syllabus week, where all you do in class is review the syllabus for the course. Then after you leave the classroom, you shove the syllabus into the bottom of your backpack or in a random folder and you’re probably never going to look at it again. Instead of doing this, put each syllabus somewhere safe and actually refer back to it for assignments. If you go off what the professor writes on the syllabus, I can promise you’ll get a better grade versus someone who doesn’t review the assignment’s requirements.
  • But planners are a girl’s (and boy’s) best friend — Do I even have to go into detail about this? I know what you’re thinking, why do I need a planner if I can use my phone? Well, it’s easier to keep appointments, to-dos and notes all together and see an entire week or month at a glance. And there are various studies and articles that discuss how writing things down versus typing it helps you remember better. There is also no syncing involved, and there are millions to choose from to match your needs or budget. You can get one from Target or Staples that is simple, or you can take it a step further and get an Erin Condren Life Planner (scroll to my previous blog post for a coupon) or a Plum Paper Planner, both of which are customizable so it is tailored to your needs and has a bunch of accessories and add-ons. And if you are set on sticking to iPhone productivity apps, here are my favorites: Fantastical, Calendars 5, Appigo Todo, GoodTask, and 2Do. You can check those out if you’d like. They sync with iCloud reminders. The GoodTask app for Mac is awesome, nice to look at and convenient!
  • “I can just review the powerpoint slides and I’ll be fine” — Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I beg you, please just take the time to make your own study guide or note cards to study from. Quickly reviewing slides won’t do you any good, trust me. Which brings me to my next point…
  • Go! To! Class! — Enough said.
  • I think we need to take a break — Break up with unified notebooks, folders and binders. Buy separate folders/binders/notebooks (or whatever you use) for each class. Here’s how I do it: I have the same classes on Mondays/Wednesdays, then other same classes on Tuesdays/Thursdays. I buy two notebooks and two folders. Yup, you guessed it: one for my Monday/Wednesday courses and one for Tuesday/Thursday courses. Half of the notebook is dedicated to the first class, the other half is dedicated to the second class. Ditto for the folders, one class on the left and one on the right. Are you still following or did I lose you?
  • Live life in color — Color coding is always an easy way to help you get organized. Maybe you have a red folder and notebook for one class and a blue folder and notebook for another. This is super simple and is a tremendous help. You can take it one step further and color code your notes too using colored pens or just colored Post-it flags.
  • Your mind is a map — Mind mapping is a fun way to lay out your ideas. It’s great for very visual people. I recommend checking that out if you are one of those people. Because sometimes plain lists and notes are a little bland.

Room Organization

  • Clean up your act — Just kidding, clean up your room. Common sense here, keeping your room clean helps you find things faster and will make you more productive. So make your bed, put your laundry in the hamper, and go through that stack of papers cluttering up your desk.
  • White is right — Okay, that headline is a little dumb. Anyway, here’s my next tip: get a whiteboard, put it on your wall near your desk, write down your to-dos and assignments. Now you always have this information right in front of you while you’re in your room and you won’t forget anything again. Super easy, super effective.
  • File it, don’t pile it — That one was catchy, you have to admit! Buy a magazine file to stash (neatly) in your room. Then get a vertical file folder for each class (and label it of course). Next, when a million papers are accumulating in the folder you bring back and forth to class, empty what you don’t need anymore and stash each into its appropriate file folder. Now you don’t have to keep all the papers in your regular folder to weigh down your bag, but you’re not throwing anything out, you know… just in case you need a paper again. (This is helpful in regard to exams. Put your exams in your file folder and when the final comes around, use the old exams as a study guide.)


General Organization Tips

  • Don’t sweat it — Don’t procrastinate, be proactive. If you tend to have a habit of procrastinating (guilty!), set your own deadlines to meet. Having a set deadline forces you to do your work, and if your deadline is a few days before the assignment is actually due, you now have a few days to relax and not stress about the work.
  • Be there in a flash! — Oh, flash drives. Tiny little miracle workers. So much data, such a small device. Attach a USB drive to your car keys or something in your backpack so it won’t get lost. You never know when one will come in handy (more than you think).
  • Counting sheep — I needed to throw this in and it’s mainly geared toward freshmen who are new to college, but please try your best to get a decent amount of sleep each night. I know sometimes you think you need to stay up extremely late to study for a big exam. Instead, just review your notes a little each day and get a good night’s sleep before the exam. Because if you are exhausted, you won’t do well on your exam, and the late-night studying won’t be worth it.
  • Empty wallet? — College is a time when many of us get our first credit cards. Here’s advice: if you can’t afford to pay for the item you want at that moment, chances are you won’t be able to pay for it at the end of the month when you get your card statement. Here are two pieces of advice: first, only use the card on small purchases to begin building your credit, and second, consider making a budget for yourself. I budget an allotted amount each month for groceries, clothing, etc. and although I’m still a poor college student, it’s better than being a broke college student.



I know that is an overwhelming amount of information but with a little practice, you’ll be an organized student in no time! If anyone has other student organization tips, feel free to comment and share! Good luck to everyone in school!

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