Graduation Blues? You’re Not Alone
Want to know a secret? Not everyone is excited about graduating from college. In fact, a good portion of students who are gearing up to leave their campuses this spring are actually terrified, stressed and downright depressed about it. It’s actually a very natural reaction, but somehow society has kept that hidden from them. They’ve been told for the last four to six years that graduation was their goal, that golden ticket to adulthood that would give them the keys to the future, and now they should celebrate by walking away with a smile on their face and a piece of paper in their hands. Even their friends and family keep reminding them that life as they know it will soon end and they will have to join the ‘real’ world. So, why aren’t these students celebrating their accomplishments and excited for their futures? It’s simple. For the last several years, their lives have been structured and fairly easy. They knew where they had to be and they had a sense of identity; they were college students. Now, many of them are leaving behind their friends and heading out into the world without a job or a clear purpose; they don’t know who they are or what they want to do. The reports of graduate unemployment rates don’t help either, and heaven forbid they should have to move back home with their parents; it’s enough to make students run back to their dorm room and never leave.
Post-graduation depression is real and very common. Although there is no guarantee that life after college will be smooth sailing, there are things students can look forward to once they receive their diploma; they no longer have to attend boring lectures, lose sleep trying to write a 10-page paper or stay up all night cramming for a final exam. They also get to look forward to finding a partner to share their lives with or starting a family; some will explore the world and others may take some time to volunteer. But for those who still don’t have any idea which direction to take, here are some suggestions for keeping busy while waiting to start the next chapter of their lives.
1. Get Healthy
For the last several years, students have been focused on their school work and many may have a gained a few pounds or developed some poor eating habits; the time between graduation and starting a new job is perfect for focusing on getting healthy. Students should start exercising, which also helps battle depression, and learn how to eat a more balanced diet. Yoga and meditation can also be beneficial. A healthy body is important for keeping the mind sharp and the attitude positive, as well.
2. Start a Hobby
There never seemed to be enough time in college to do everything, so now is a great time for students to explore their passions and other interests. Joining a community sports league, learning a new language or even building a website could all lead to connections that could translate into a job offer or new career path. For those who love photography, offering their time and talents at local events can also lead to job opportunities. Students who help create materials, such as posters and brochures, for local nonprofits may realize that they are great at marketing or have an interest in event planning; keeping busy is the key and it often opens doors to unexpected opportunities.
3. Consider Graduate School
In all honesty, some students just aren’t ready to enter the ‘real’ world. For those who may need some more time or feel that they need a higher degree to be more competitive, graduate school could be the answer. The job market is still fairly uneasy, so having a master’s degree may give students an edge, however, it’s also important for students to earn some experience, as well. Taking on an internship or part-time job in their chosen field can help build their resume while they complete their program.
Many students have a difficult time adjusting to life after college, but keeping busy and staying positive can help. It’s important that students stay connected to their friends after graduation, as it can often feel as though they are alone; knowing that others are experiencing the same issues or problems will make it easier for students to acknowledge their feelings and support one another through this period of transition. College graduation is a time of celebration, but it is also the end of what many believe is the best time of their lives. Although it’s sad to say good-bye to familiar faces and places, students should remember that it wasn’t that long ago that they we leaving behind high school to start a new life (college); they made it through that adventure, so there’s no reason to believe that they won’t make it through this one, too. Life’s a journey; follow the well-worn path, take a detour or enjoy an undiscovered road – just be sure to enjoy the ride!