The 2016 graduation season is here. College graduates around the country are leaving campus life to traverse the real world. But post-graduation life can be daunting for young adults, who often turn to friends, family and successful celebrity and millionaire role models for advice.
This year, with the 2016 presidential election around the corner, many college graduates will undoubtedly look to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders quotes in search of any words of wisdom that might be useful in navigating life after college. Sanders has been an election favorite among young adults, and quotes taken from his speeches, debates, interviews and even his Twitter account can offer valuable advice for college graduates.
Here’s Sen. Bernie Sanders’ best advice for new college grads.
1. It’s Better to Show Up Than to Give Up
“I am going to do my best to try to create a country in which children are not living in poverty, in which kids can go to college, in which old people have health care. Will I succeed? I can’t guarantee you that, but I can tell you that from a human point of view it is better to show up than to give up.” — Interview with Mother Jones, 2015
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders refuses to give up on his goals. He demonstrates perseverance, an important trait to possess in any career path. As Sanders said, no matter what you choose to do after college, it’s important to show up. You might not land your dream job right away, but do your best wherever you are and never give up.
2. Do Your Best to Get Out of Student Loan Debt
“We must fundamentally restructure our student loan program. It makes no sense that students and their parents are forced to pay interest rates for higher education loans that are much higher than they pay for car loans or housing mortgages.” — Speech at Johnson State College, February 2015
The average 2016 college graduate will have about $37,000 in student loan debt, according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Cappex, which helps students find colleges and scholarships. Sanders understands the burden of paying off student loans after graduation.
Find ways to lower how much you pay on interest and focus on paying off student loans, such as by living at home to lower expenses, refinancing or joining volunteer programs like the Peace Corps, which offers student loan relief. Whatever you do, get ahead of your debt and start paying it off as soon as you graduate — or even before.
3. Put Your College Degree to Good Use
“In my view, there is no justice, when here, in Virginia and Vermont and all over this country, millions of people are working long hours for abysmally low wages of $7.25 an hour.” — Speech at Liberty University convocation, September 2015
In 2014, 1.3 million hourly workers in America made exactly the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, and 1.7 million hourly workers earned wages below the federal minimum, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only about 2 percent of those earning minimum wage were college graduates, and on average, college graduates between the ages of 25 and 32 who work full time earn $17,500 more per year than those without a college degree, according a 2014 Pew Research Center study.
College graduates have an advantage when applying to jobs and negotiating salaries, something that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Put your degree to good use and never be afraid to ask for a raise and be paid what you’re worth.
4. Prioritize What Matters Most
“In the pope’s view — and I agree with him — we are living … in a world which worships not love of brothers and sisters, not love of the poor and the sick, but worships the acquisition of money and great wealth. I do not believe that this is the country we should be living in.” — Speech at Liberty University convocation, September 2015
While finding a well-paying job is the No. 1 priority for college graduates, it shouldn’t be the only thing that matters. Last year, Sanders encouraged college students at Liberty University to focus on kindness and giving back, not just on making money and getting rich. No matter your endeavors, always look for opportunities to help others.
5. Respect the Planet and Save
“It is our moral responsibility to leave this planet in a way that is habitable and healthy for our children and our grandchildren.” — Bernie Sanders’ Twitter, October 2015
Sanders is a strong advocate of combating climate change. Going green isn’t just good for future generations — it can be good for your wallet, too. Simple changes like switching to reusable water bottles and washing clothes in cold water can save money in the long-run.
6. Stand Together With Like-Minded People
“Finally, let’s understand that when we stand together, we will always win. When men and women stand together for justice, we win. When black, white, Hispanic people stand together for justice, we win.” — Bernie Sanders’ Huffington Post column, April 2012
The real world can be a scary place, but life gets a lot easier when you find common ground with those around you. This particular tip can be applied across the board — from social justice to local causes and even at your new workplace. In short, when you want to get something done, recruit others to the cause — and ask for help.
7. Don’t Underestimate Yourself
“People should not underestimate me.” — Interview with the Associated Press, April 2015
If there’s one Bernie Sanders quote to follow, it’s this: Don’t underestimate yourself. On the day he announced he was running for the 2016 presidency, Sanders told AP not to underestimate him — and he meant it. He’s held his ground longer than most political pundits expected he would, and he’s made an impact on voters across the country.
Life after college can be intimidating and confusing, but with the right amount of confidence, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
Keep Reading: 10 Steps New College Graduates Need to Take Now