Graduation day is something you have been dreaming about for years. You went to college, you proved you have a strong ability to persevere and endure some pretty sh*tty times, and now you are preparing for your big day.
Trust me I get it! I’m getting ready to graduate with my masters in business administration this Friday (yipppppeeee)! And this time around, I’m prepared. I’m cool as a cucumber. I know what to expect and what not to expect.
Some of the challenges graduation presents are completely untalked about. Many people go into a downward spiral after graduation. Why you may ask?
We put so much pressure on ourselves to get a degree that will pay great money, so we can get married, have 2.5 kids, buy an SUV and move to a suburban neighborhood with a pool and park. It’s more than that; we have external pressure from family, friends, siblings, that person on Facebook that told you majoring in communications was a waste of time. You have the choice to face those pressures with a calm demeanor, or go into a wine, cheese, and Netflix binge while you sleep on your parent’s couch. The pressure will always be there. It’s how you choose to face it that matters.
2. Sometimes, we realize we hate what we studied…
…and that’s okay! I learned quickly that accounting was not my cup of tea, but I was way too far into the program to choose another degree. I really disliked pensions, carry forwards, studying IRS codes, and late nights learning about MACRS and straight-line depreciation. But truth be told, I don’t care. It wouldn’t have mattered if I studied engineering, or theater, or marketing, I am called to being an entrepreneur. I hold my education value high, but at the end of the day, a degree is simply a stepping stone to opening your mind to new possibilities. It’s not the end all be all.
3. Student loan debt.
There’s nothing worse that graduating and getting ready to be financially independent and seeing a whopping $28,000+ student loan bill waiting six months after graduation for you. Student loan debt impacts your life in a really negative way. It makes decisions for you- including if and when you buy home, what job you take, and it even takes away your ability to travel the world.
*Reach out to me if you need help paying off student loan debt (firstname.lastname@example.org). I paid off $30K in 10 months and I can help you pay your debt off too.
4. Decisions are hard, and now we are faced with an immediate one.
Graduation day marks this fork in the road moment. For four or five years, we avoided planning for our life outside of college, because we were telling ourselves, “if I can just get through one more day.” We thought we had plenty of time to prepare for the future but now, here it is.
5. You don’t feel ready.
“Maybe I should have paid attention in that class a little more,” was a common thought I experienced on the reg. You aren’t going to feel ready to be in the professional world. It’s scary and no matter what you feel unprepared or inadequate. But don’t let that stop you from applying for jobs that interest you. You’ll learn a ton on the job!
6. You really should have been networking more.
Networking is critical to your success, but when you are constantly studying, it can be hard to go to networking events. Trust me- graduation time is when your networking skills come in extremely handy. Establish relationships with others far before you need them and they will be there when you are in need.
7. Life is different.
You know how people feel so lost and out of place when they get out of prison? The same feeling is true of when you are done with school. You celebrate, exclaim your excitement over graduation, and how it doesn’t feel real, and then when you don’t go back in the fall, you feel a sense of emptiness. Like something is missing. Life is different after graduation, but it isn’t all rainbows and sunshine. It’s just different. And that takes some getting used to.
8. It can take a while to get a job.
This is something no one wants to admit, but it’s a reality for college grads. You don’t always get the job you thought you signed up for. In fact, sometimes, you don’t get any bites for 6-12 months. Ouch! This happens far too often, so please for the love of all things holy, keep your head up and keep searching. Use your networks to find jobs. Get off the internet! The best jobs are not even posted online- they are found through connections.
All of these together can cause some serious confidence, and self esteem issues if you let it. Graduation is an exciting time in your life. It’s a huge accomplishment, but it can also be a very dark time. Don’t buy into the promise that a degree will be your saving grace. It’s not.
Degree or no degree, you are the one who will make your life awesome!
Q: Are you/have you experienced any of these issues? If so, comment below and share your tips to getting out of this funk.