Stressful exams, excessive coffee, possible home sickness and hefty loans; post-secondary education has been quite the ride for the last few years, but hopefully has, in theory, provided you with the exciting opportunities everyone says awaits you. Many students across the globe expect to obtain a respectable, decent-paying job in their field right after graduation, but is this expectation realistic nowadays?
Undoubtedly, many soon-to-be grads are concerned about what life looks like after graduation. Remember all that support when you left high school to transition to university or college? Those transition supports aren't so readily available and obvious now that we're getting ready to graduate from post-secondary school. These are stressful times, with many questioning where you will live (moving back in with parents? ) and how soon can you find a career-focused job (that you like!) to pay off your student loans. This stress can take a toll on your mental health and the ability to cope.
I've been working with students for several years now and have outlined some tips to help you avoid getting the graduation blues and better enjoy the next phase in your journey.
Talk it out
Ask your school counselling centre for some referrals to affordable supports in your community. We all need some help as we head into this new world of wonders, and there are a variety of talk therapy and behavioural counselling options out there. Change is hard, but asking for help doesn't need to be. Good friends and family members, particularly ones who have "been there," can be great supports as well. Discussing options for your future gets things out of your head, and become actionable through steps toward your goals.
Freedom is real
Make a plan for doing something you enjoy, and allow yourself to get excited about it. After all the pressure you've been under, give yourself time to adjust, whether it be a trip, shopping or visiting your friends. Get busy doing nothing. Allow yourself some time to just be free and relax, and don't just sit around dwelling on what is not getting done right away.
Do the right thing
So what's the next step? Sure, it's easy to just enroll in the Master's program to put off leaving your safe hub, or taking an internship that pays less than nothing to get some "practical" experience. Stop putting off the inevitable, and just be true to yourself about what job you accept or whether the extra education is worth the extra debt. This is the time to check out what's out there and not grab the easiest thing. Fear of drifting around is scary, but grabbing the first available option can exacerbate your mental health issues if it's not the right one, so stick to your guns.
This is where you're at
Accepting that university or college is coming to an end, and you don't know what comes next, is OK. Typically we spend about 16 straight years in schooling being told to some degree what we can and can't do, so it's no wonder we come out not knowing exactly what we are supposed to do. Accept that this is where you are. The power of now. This is a normal stage that most of us go through so allow yourself to readjust and focus on what you need to do for your next journey in the big open world.