And suddenly it’s all over! It seemed like yesterday when you were getting ready for the Freshers Ball, but now you are about to face (or have faced) graduation day. Or perhaps you still have another few months to go, but whatever the case, you will have to face the finality of this chapter of your university education at some point.
For some people, there will be a sense of elation. After all the hard work and stress has paid off, there will be feelings of optimism as they enter the world at large. For others, there will be feelings of sadness. Saying goodbye to a place that has offered so many new experiences, it can be gutting when the day comes to step out into the world away from the joys that uni offered. And for some people, there will be a feeling of dread. That question of ‘what on earth am I supposed to do now?’ echoing through their minds. Stepping into the world after the safe confines of university can be scary.
And for you? What will you feel? Or if you have already thrown your cap into the air, how are you feeling? Perhaps it’s one emotion, or perhaps it’s a mixture of excitement, sadness, and fear, all rolled up into one emotional landslide racing through your thoughts. We don’t know – we’re not you – but one thing is for sure. You will have to face the world, and say farewell to the life you have known for the last few years.
It is scary, it is exciting, it is sad; it is all of these things, but no matter how you are feeling, here are some survival tips to help you adjust.
Survival Tip #1: Don’t panic!
If you already have a plan laid out in front of you, then good for you! You may have landed yourself an internship, or you may have secured a job role, whether that’s thanks to the degree you now hold or not! Congrats if so. However, if you are like many uni graduates stepping out into the world today, and don’t have any idea of what to do next, don’t panic!
Take time out to consider your next move, and don’t let other people tell you what you should be doing. There are options ahead of you, but you don’t have to come to a quick decision. There are some ideas in the previous link, and we will be going through some of the possible choices you can make shortly, but considering our next point, it is wise to pause, readjust yourself to life after uni, and take time out for your own wellbeing.
Survival Tip #2: Talk about your feelings
Mental health issues are commonplace after leaving university. Medical terms used include ‘Graduation Blues’ and ‘Post-University Depression.’ Moving from a place of security into the world again can take its emotional toll. You may be saying goodbye to people you will never or rarely see again. You will leave a place where you were recognised for your achievements into a world where you will have to fight for recognition again. And where once you were well known, you will now be a small fish in a much larger pond. These are just some of the reasons why leaving university hits some people hard.
If this is you, don’t bottle these feelings up. Talk to your family about what you are going through. Speak to any uni friends who may be feeling the same. And if necessary, speak to a counsellor. You will get over your blues eventually, but in this period of readjusting, don’t be afraid to voice how you are feeling. You will start to feel better when you do.
Survival Tip #3: Consider what direction to take next
Finding yourself again after leaving uni can be tough, but as you move forward, you will start to understand your place in the world again. But what should you do? Where should you go?
If you don’t have a job to go into, you should take the necessary steps. Sign up for unemployment benefits so you at least have some income coming in while you are working out your next move. Get involved in voluntary work in your downtime as this will give you some focus to your day and give you valuable experience to enhance your employability.
Speak to careers professionals to guide your thinking. Start applying for graduate jobs, but considering the competition is tough, don’t be afraid to apply for other jobs in the meantime, even if they aren’t your ‘dream positions.’
And even though you have left uni, you can still start applying for internships. Some companies have internship programmes especially directed at graduates, so start doing your research.
Of course, you can still continue your education if you think that will help your career prospects. Advanced courses, such as this distance learning online MBA can be taken at home if you don’t want to go back to university life, or if you can’t bear to leave, take a postgraduate degree course at the place where you previously studied. Find a course that compliments your current degree, or if you decide on a complete turnaround of career choice, look for those other courses that will get you to where you want to be.
Your other option is to take a gap year and travel. If you ever wanted to tour Australia or backpack around India (other countries are available), then the year after uni is the optimal time. You will have less time to do this when you have signed up to a working contract, so if you don’t yet have a job to fall into, take the opportunity while you have it. This is also a good idea for anybody not sure about the direction to go into next.
Travelling will give you time to reflect on what you want from your life, as well as teaching you useful life skills that will benefit your future. There are ways to earn money when abroad too, so consider these options if you need to fund your travels.
Survival Tip #4: Start feeling like a grownup
It can be difficult to feel like a grownup if you don’t know what to do with your life after uni. And it can be difficult to feel like an adult should you have to move back in with your parents. Where once you had responsibilities and a focus, you can lose some of these after graduation, and start to feel inadequate as a result. Therefore, get a handle on your life again.
If you are moving back to your parents, start to save money for a place of your own. You probably won’t have the funds to buy your own place, but provided you find yourself a part-time or a full-time job, you should be able to afford the price of rental income. This will give you your independence, away from those child-like feelings you may get when living under your parent’s roof again. And do those other ‘grown-up’ things, such as sorting out your finances. You won’t have to pay off your student loan until you start earning good money, but if you have any other debts left over from uni life, start to pay them off. Open a graduate bank account too, as you are entitled to certain perks that will benefit you as you try to get back on your feet.
The more you can do to take responsibility for your life, the less reliant you will be on your parents or others. And gaining independence will also help with you overcome those post-uni blues if you are suffering from them.
Survival Tip #5: Know your worth
After leaving uni, your self-confidence can take a dip. This is especially true when you are forced to move back home, or if you can’t find a job straight away. And it’s even worse when your uni friends seem to find their feet before you do, moving into internships or careers while you’re still trying to find your place in the world! But none of these things mean you are worthless.
For starters, you have survived university life! You will have accomplished many things while you were at uni, not least receiving a degree at the very end of it. Reflect on these accomplishments if you do start to feel despondent, and congratulate yourself on what you achieved. And don’t start comparing yourself with others. Your path is your own, so provided you make an effort to follow your passions, you will make headway. If your best mates (or your worst enemies) get there before you do, then so what? Base your worth on what you achieve, and not on the achievements of others.
Life after graduation isn’t easy for everybody, but it is the start of an exciting new chapter. We hope our survival tips were useful, but if you have any advice of your own from your personal experiences, then be sure to let us know. Thanks for reading!
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