Life After College…Now What?

So, the moment you’ve been working towards has finally come…GRADUATION!!! It’s a time when you should be super excited, but you’re not.  Instead, all you seem to feel these days is constant pressure and stress to successfully complete assignments and exams prior to graduation day. Think about it, as graduating seniors we have a lot on our plates.  We’re juggling homework, classes, projects, jobs, internships, and much more. It’s no wonder we can’t stay focused on one task at a time for too long.

You’re exhausted and sometimes frustrated.  And you’re probably wondering whether you’re going to be able to get all your assignments completed in time.  But no matter how tired, stressed or frustrated you are, you’re determined to keep moving forward towards the graduation finish line because you’re too close to give up now!

However, a couple of the things I’ve experienced and what I’ve witnessed from my peers is that we are so caught up on the “What’s due now” or “What’s happening now” that we forget there’s life after college to be concerned about.  Yes, it’s very important to finish college.  And the questions my family and friends keep asking me are “What’s next?” “What happens after college?”  These questions are nerve-racking for college graduates, right?  And you’re probably thinking, “Let’s take this just one step at a time, please!” Truth be told, many of us don’t know whether to start working immediately in our field, go get a Mater’s degree, start a family, travel, or take a break.

According to CNBC.com, in 2016, 21% of college students accepted jobs before or upon graduation, 61% of college students accepted jobs within 1-6 months (post-graduation), and 12% of college students accepted jobs within 7 months to a year (post-graduation).

Statistically, it’s clear that many college students don’t start working straight out of college.

If you’re like me, struggling to figure out what to do after college, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. It’s normal to not know what you should do after college. So cheer up and calm down. In fact, most middle-aged adults still don’t know what they want to do in life.
  2. It’s OK to take a break after college to recharge for the next round of life. Use this time to explore your best options for our “after college” life.
  3. Be patient. So many times students become discouraged because it seems everyone else already has a job offer or is getting married. Take your time. Your opportunity will come too.
  4. Perfect the skills you learned in college. It is always good to perfect or practice to make your skills better.
  5. Develop new skills. Having new skills is always good because that’s what keeps you well-rounded and it makes you more marketable.
  6. Further your education. Education can take you so far. It can bring forth opportunity and bring you new interest you didn’t know you had.
  7. Take time to travel and learn about a new culture. This can help you grow and appreciate other cultures.

Remember, you don’t have to do it the way others did it. Besides, just because that way worked for them, doesn’t mean it will work for you. This is your journey.

Regardless of what paths we choose to take, it’s important to do what we feel is right for us and not what we think others wants us to do.

“There is nothing more beautiful than finding your course as you believe you bob aimlessly in the current. Wouldn’t you know that your path was there all along, waiting for you to knock, waiting for you to become. This path does not belong to your parents, your teachers, your leaders, or your lovers. Your path is your character-defining itself more and more everyday like a photograph coming into focus.”

Jodie Foster to the University of Pennsylvania in 2006

“How do you know when you’re doing something right? How do you know that? It feels so. What I know now is that feelings are really your GPS system for life. When you’re supposed to do something or not supposed to do something, your emotional guidance system lets you know. The trick is to learn to check your ego at the door and start checking your gut instead.”

Oprah Winfrey to Stanford University in 2008

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