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Alumni Advice


Out of College, Money Spent

With jobs a scarcity, many graduates are living at home again. But being back with mom and dad doesn’t have to be all that bad.

illustration of grad
Illustration by Danny Schwartz

Many new graduates, facing a bleak job market, are back where it all started: home with mom and dad. Fun or frightening? Family psychologists Karen Riggs Skean GSAPP’85 and Maureen Hudak GSAPP’88, who have counseling practices in Highland Park, New Jersey, know what it takes to keep the peace.

Role-Playing: Get the family together to set the tone for a more adult relationship with your parents. “Without some discussion, the easiest thing for people to do is to fall back into old roles,” Skean says. “If you return to sleeping until noon and not taking the garbage out until you’re told, it’s easy for parents to see you like you’re back in high school.”

Paying Your Way: Agree to pay rent, contribute to the household expenses, and share in cooking or cleaning, Hudak suggests. Your parents will appreciate your taking some responsibility.

House Party: It’s one thing to invite your friends over to hang out, watch a movie, or play Wii. “But if you have the equivalent of a frat party in your family’s living room,” says Skean, “that probably will happen once.” First, ask your parents how they feel about guests, alcohol consumption, and loud music—a combination that isn’t always mom and dad’s favorite.

Overnight Visitation: Your parents may not be keen on your boyfriend or girlfriend spending the night, but, Hudak says, their attitudes could change if your relationship is significant. Acknowledge their point of view and ask them to reevaluate if you continue seeing the same person.

Term Limits: It may help ease your return, Skean says, if you set a goal for how long you’ll stay. Whether it’s until you find a full-time job or save enough money to get an apartment, set the plan in motion now.                     — Robert DiGiacomo

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