Post Grad: Five Women and Their First Year Out of College by Caroline Kitchener

Post Grad: Five Women and Their First Year Out of College

An honest and deeply reported account of five women and the opportunities and frustrations they face in the year following their graduation from an elite university.Recent Princeton graduate Caroline Kitchener weaves together her experiences from her first year after college with that of four of her peers in order to delve more deeply into what the world now offers a femal...

Title:Post Grad: Five Women and Their First Year Out of College
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0062429493
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:320 pages

Post Grad: Five Women and Their First Year Out of College Reviews

  • Angela Palm
    Dec 27, 2016

    Post Grad reveals Caroline Kitchener’s startling facility for journalism through her precise, portrait-like narration of five women’s first independent forays into the real world—including, boldly and necessarily, her own. As each woman navigates family, love, purpose, dependence, and potential, Kitchener traces her own uncertain transitions with the perceptive attention of a memoirist. Ivy League education or no, there’s no prep course for how to cultivate one’s independent identity or how to s

    Post Grad reveals Caroline Kitchener’s startling facility for journalism through her precise, portrait-like narration of five women’s first independent forays into the real world—including, boldly and necessarily, her own. As each woman navigates family, love, purpose, dependence, and potential, Kitchener traces her own uncertain transitions with the perceptive attention of a memoirist. Ivy League education or no, there’s no prep course for how to cultivate one’s independent identity or how to simultaneously parse parental expectations, personal dreams, and reality’s limitations. Sincere, eloquent, and thorough, Kitchener’s debut is a must read for both parents and grads entering into and emerging from this stage of growth. Post Grad exists in that liminal space of possibility, offering readers the greatest gift: the assurance that the fruits of true self-possession cannot come to bear without risk, false starts, compromise, and reflection. A degree isn’t a life, but rather a passport to a structure against which one’s life will unfold. A life is something else entirely, acquired one good or bad decision, one good or bad moment, at a time. I can't wait to see what Kitchener does next with hers.

  • Tracy
    Nov 02, 2016

    I kept thinking that these five women couldn't be representative of the majority of that year's Princeton graduating class. Interesting, and does a good job of examining the emotions and decision making the girls went through over the course of the year. I just have a hard time believing these were the experiences of most college graduates, especially from the Ivy League.

  • Brianna Westervelt
    Apr 11, 2017

    This title particularly appealed to me (even before I requested the ARC) because, as I rapidly approach the two-year mark since my college graduation, I was eager to discover how other people my age traversed those initial months and years out of college. And I'm particularly happy to know that I am not alone in my struggles.

    From the description and upon reading the introduction, I did not expect this book to have such a narrative. Nonfiction about #postgradlife will surely be about facts and fi

    This title particularly appealed to me (even before I requested the ARC) because, as I rapidly approach the two-year mark since my college graduation, I was eager to discover how other people my age traversed those initial months and years out of college. And I'm particularly happy to know that I am not alone in my struggles.

    From the description and upon reading the introduction, I did not expect this book to have such a narrative. Nonfiction about #postgradlife will surely be about facts and figures, I told myself. However, I was pleasantly surprised with Caroline Kitchener's unique perspective of this particular state-of-being that is not talked about nearly as much as it should be.

    Kitchener details the post-grad lives of Denise, Alex, Michelle, and Olivia--weaving her own story into the narrative, as well. And all five of them graduated from PRINCETON. They can't have too many struggles coming out of an Ivy League university, right? Says the girl who graduated from a top state research university in the Midwest. If anything, these Ivy Leaguers should have it better, right? To say that this group had their share of struggles is perhaps a bit of an understatement. Yes, there was some mundane relationship drama that I rolled my eyes a little at (to which I couldn't exactly relate anyway), but there was also fear. Fear is a surprisingly big part of one's initial years after graduation. And I know what that feels like. Once you graduate college, for the first time in your life there seems to be no plan. You don't know where you'll be in three months, in six months, or a year. It's an intimidating prospect, to say the least. But Kitchener marvelously captured that uncertainty and fear we all feel as we depart our university's hallowed halls, no matter the geographic location.

    It seems quite an ambitious project to follow the lives--and tell the stories, no less!--of these women in the year after graduating from Princeton. I'm finding it difficult to simply maintain friendships with people from college, much less WRITE and PUBLISH a book about them!

    Hats off to you, Ms. Kitchener, as I await your next ambitious project.

  • Morgan Jerkins
    Jan 11, 2017

    Boy, I wish I would've had this book when I graduated from college back in 2014. Nevertheless, the book shows just how stressful and transformative that first year out of undergrad truly is.

  • M.E. Ficarra
    Apr 27, 2017

    Highly recommend! The first year out of college is a tough one for many women, who may find themselves suddenly removed from the tight-knit communities they developed--but no one really talks about it. Kitchener tackles the experiences of these five women with honesty and empathy, and I am grateful that she has shed some light on this shadowy, confusing, post-college period. At a time when many young women feel isolated, Kitchener shares a simple, but important message: you are not alone.

  • Jo Oehrlein
    Jun 04, 2017

    I can't imagine that Princeton PR is thrilled with the book. I don't think the school was presented in a good light during the book. I guess it's good that I have friends posting from Reunions 2017 this weekend to help balance things out.

    I know that she said that she tried to find really diverse people, but in some ways they weren't that diverse. Michelle (jazz singer) and Olivia (documentary producer) were both international students from extremely wealthy families. Of the 5 women, it seems tha

    I can't imagine that Princeton PR is thrilled with the book. I don't think the school was presented in a good light during the book. I guess it's good that I have friends posting from Reunions 2017 this weekend to help balance things out.

    I know that she said that she tried to find really diverse people, but in some ways they weren't that diverse. Michelle (jazz singer) and Olivia (documentary producer) were both international students from extremely wealthy families. Of the 5 women, it seems that 4 were going to end up in grad school quickly (Michelle already in conservatory, Alex in the online software engineering program, Caroline/author going to law school, and Denise going to medical school). None of them seemed to have a very strong sense of self and defined themselves in relation to others (even Olivia's rebellion seemed to be about being different than others rather than following her own heart/interests).

    I don't understand why Denise didn't wait another year for medical school applications. I know she had started, but she could have not finished and just waited until next year. It seems like it would have been better for the MCAT, better for her work, and better for her personally (she had really just now settled into a community in NYC and now she's leaving....). I do think things will work out well for her, but I was a little weirded out by how worried she was about admitting to people that she was "just" going to Emory.

    Olivia is all kinds of messed up. She wants to not be dependent on her parents, but was willing to be dependent on Michael for a long time. She put all that effort into the documentary (she didn't have time to even get a part-time job because she was investing so much time in her documentary) and then just gave it up. She's trying Buddhism, and rationalism, and psychedelic drugs, not to mention going back & forth with that Sugar Daddy thing.

    I was trying to figure out if I thought it would be a stronger book if it didn't include the author. I think she let her own thoughts and feelings color a lot of it.

    I sort of get her social anxiety and sort of don't (and I do understand that anxiety isn't exactly rational). She intentionally chose a spot in a group house and then hid from all the people. She somehow lived there for 4+ months before realizing one of the others had gone to Princeton with her? (Although in another place, she said everyone else had lived there much longer and already formed their cliques.)

    There's all sorts of parental conflict going on. First, Alex, the lesbian daughter of a Southern Baptist minister. Wish that he could have been something more than an emotionally abusive caricature. Then, the author has issues with her mom. Michelle doesn't tell her folks what kind of jazz she's really doing. Olivia hasn't spoken to her parents in years. Only Denise seems to have a good relationship with her parents, and she talks to them far more than average -- it would have been nice to have a more normal relationship represented.

    There were several editing errors early on that made me cringe

    * geographical instead of geometrical

    * tan Microsoft computers (no such thing -- the only Microsoft computers are Surface tablets)

    * talking about Harlem public schools -- they're NYC public schools

    If this were written about me, then I'd want my name changed because this is just way too much information to be public.

  • Ellie
    May 24, 2017

    This book was a lot less

    than I expected. I realize this sounds a bit vague...that is, it read more like a story than a report. That wasn't a bad thing, and I was impressed with this woman, writing this just out of college. But I personally didn't really

    anything from it. It was a quick, interesting read--the five subjects of the book lead lives so completely different from my own, and everything they did was novel to me.

    Again, though, I didn't get any revelations from this. The f

    This book was a lot less

    than I expected. I realize this sounds a bit vague...that is, it read more like a story than a report. That wasn't a bad thing, and I was impressed with this woman, writing this just out of college. But I personally didn't really

    anything from it. It was a quick, interesting read--the five subjects of the book lead lives so completely different from my own, and everything they did was novel to me.

    Again, though, I didn't get any revelations from this. The first year out of college is hard, I guess? Something to look forward to. Yay...

  • Ari
    Jun 17, 2017

    IQ "Sometimes she [Denise] had to remind herself that, even though she didn't have a tight group of best friends, she did have a lot of people who cared about her. They were just scattered" (177).

    I don't think it's news to anyone that recent college graduates face a lot of anxiety about leaving college, there's excitement and fear combined with the fact that you are leaving a community. But I am glad that this book was written to explore in particular how young women deal with the first year out

    IQ "Sometimes she [Denise] had to remind herself that, even though she didn't have a tight group of best friends, she did have a lot of people who cared about her. They were just scattered" (177).

    I don't think it's news to anyone that recent college graduates face a lot of anxiety about leaving college, there's excitement and fear combined with the fact that you are leaving a community. But I am glad that this book was written to explore in particular how young women deal with the first year out of college and that the five women in the stories appear to be remarkably candid. Would it have been more interesting if this book chose to profile 5 non Ivy League graduates? Yes. However the author continuously acknowledges the privilege that comes with a Princeton diploma and that 4/5 of the girls grow up in comfortable or extremely wealthy families. Two of the women are women of color and I wish she had pressed them more on the challenges they found in the workplace/post grad life as women of color, while I wouldn't say this narrative is "color blind" (she mentions the family background of Denise, from Cameroon and Olivia who is from Malaysia), she doesn't do much analysis of challenges they faced due to ethnicity as opposed to the author, Alex and Michelle. I also think it would have been interesting to interview a woman of color with non immigrant parents to compare their upbringing, expectations and postgrad experiences. Additionally the book lacks a lot of economic detail, for example I didn't understand the author's income source, yes she writes for a living but how does that work fresh out of college, did she struggle to get by? These are things I would have liked to see her openly delve into but instead she glosses over it to talk about having roommates and then eventually moving in with her boyfriend. I didn't want to assume her family helped her get by but she so rarely talks about her financial struggles that I was forced to draw my own conclusion which does not help this book with charges of elitism.

    There is a good deal of statistical analysis in the introduction and throughout the book that helps anchor the personal stories. I did appreciate this book confirming what I've long suspected, women in my generation want committed relationships once they graduate. I had a hard time reconciling the hookup culture portrayed in movies and TV shows with the behavior of all my friends, they have no interest in sleeping around, instead they want stable romantic relationships. And as Kitchener notes this is not to say they want marriage right away, but they do want to start planning and have that aspect of their life figured out while they pursue professional achievement. This was both encouraging (I was right hooray for literary validation) and discouraging (the women agonize for far too long over professional choices due to the presence of their significant others). At the same time there are few mentions of sexual health which I found odd since this topic consumes a lot of time for my friends and I, once you graduate college you still need to have a plan in place for what you want to do if you were to get pregnant or the stress of potentially having a STD. The book's complete utter lack of attention to such a crucial aspect of our lives struck me as odd and I found it off-putting. Similarly not much time is spent on the struggle to make friends in the workplace or outside of it, while the author and Alex work from home, the others do not but they spend more time talking about their partners than they do on friendships outside of the ones from college.

    I'm glad this book exists and I would encourage new college graduates to read it, with the caveat that book is not particularly revolutionary in its analysis or the conclusions it draws. It's a great starting point, the idea of re-creating the community-sized hole left in your life once you finish college, but I wanted the author to probe her friends a lot deeper than she did. But these young women are fun to get to know and I wish them all the best and it's enjoyable and relatable to watch them come into their own.

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