Reality becomes more present as four years of college pass by. Students pass through the doors, prepared for learning, fun and what comes next. Most emerge victorious with varying degrees in tow. Whether students accept it or not, college’s primary function is to get students prepared for life after education — finding a job.

However, an experience like that doesn’t come without its price. Nearly every American age 21-25 is finishing college, in some form or another, having shelled out upwards of $100,000 for their college degree.

We’re given an excellent chance to learn, experience “the college life” and prepare ourselves for the future. And we hear it from varying professors, faculty and administrators: “We want you to graduate ready to land a job.”

In this week’s publication, contributing writer Kyle Bryans reported on the declining availability of entry-level jobs. As several students remarked in the article, it appears that, in most fields, getting serious about landing a job upon graduation requires active preparation beginning as early as the instant students step foot on campus.

The new standard for landing a job becomes that much higher, and the qualification and requirements escalate accordingly. In journalism, for instance, gone it seems are the days when students were able to shift from intern to employee at a news organization. Instead, jobs now require multiple internships, professional experience in the range of 3-5 years at the minimum in a related field and a multitude of other skills.

With young adults seeing nearly double the rate of unemployment compared to the overall national averages, it would seem imperative that companies look to hire newer, low-cost employees with so many available.

That’s not going to happen.

We need to fight back with what’s in front of us and challenge ourselves to do more than any generation has before.

Partying all weekend and then watching football all of Sunday is perhaps not the most productive use of our time. And that’s not to say we shouldn’t all have our fun in college — by all means, do your thing. However, sacrificing some fun in order to be more responsible might be the key to shifting the odds in our favor when searching for a job.

Start looking for opportunities as a freshman. Land as many as possible while you’re in college because there just aren’t as many when you’re out, and it might just help you out one day. Your future self is thanking you already.

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