Graduating from college is both an exciting and terrifying step for many young adults as they prepare to enter the next stage of their life. For seniors in college, the thoughts become imminent and might be overwhelming at times. What do I want to do? Where do I want to live? How can I get a good job? 

Here’s some proactive things to do to reduce the anxiety and stress of “joining the real world.”

Remember that it isn’t a race and you don’t need to have your entire life set up as soon as you graduate.

Lots of students have the illusion that they have to have it all figured out as soon as they graduate. It might be stressful to see friends and other students accepting “dream jobs” and planning to move to different places, but it doesn’t happen immediately for everyone. Remember that there’s no timeline for success. Your first job doesn’t need to be perfect, and it isn’t going to be the only job you ever work. You don’t need to know exactly what field you want to spend your entire life working in immediately. Try different things and figure out what you enjoy doing, and what you excel at. If you need to take time after you graduate to analyze and assess where you want to go next, that’s OK. There’s no right or wrong step to take after you graduate, it’s all subjective. Do what you want to do, whether its conventional or unconventional. 

Take a second to be proud of where you are at this point.

A lot of times, when you’re so focused on where you need to go, you can forget about what you’ve done. Graduating college is a massive achievement. It’s something that not everyone can do. Take a second to realize that since you’ve earned a degree, you are in a good position to land a good job. You’ve put in a lot of effort and work to get to where you are, and you have value. Be confident in your abilities and try to realize that you will have options as an educated young adult. Have some faith in yourself.

For those who want to get into their prospective field immediately, try to prepare earlier rather than later.

Some students can’t relax until they lock in a job after college. In many ways, the easiest way to reduce stress is by being prepared. For those that already know their career path, start applying to jobs at the start of senior year, and even earlier if possible. Lots of jobs close applications for summer positions in the preceding winter. When you apply earlier for jobs, you have more options, and you’re more likely to get multiple offers. Even if you don’t know what you want to do, apply to some jobs that look interesting. By the time they respond, you’ll either be interested or uninterested, but you’ll have options. Take steps towards your future, even if they’re small.

Some other things to think about.

Taking the step from college into a career is a big step. It’s important to take your time deciding your next move. Think deeply about what you want to get out of the next stage of your life, and try not to beat yourself up in the process of figuring it out. Some questions you can ask yourself when graduating are: What am I passionate about? What job would benefit the most from my skills? What’s a field that I would enjoy working in every day?

Remember that success and happiness are defined differently by everyone, and they have no set time when they need to be achieved. It’s important to have goals, aspirations, and ambition. But enjoy the process of getting there. You only graduate college once, don’t spend your time worrying about every single thing 100 miles down the road. The key is to find a balance between being proud of your achievements in the past, being present in the moment, and planning your goals for the future.




About the Author: Written by Trey Schwartz. Trey is in his final year of studies at Purdue University.  He is studying Mass Communication & Media Studies.  Trey enjoys learning about personal growth.

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