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The Summer I Turned… a College Graduate!

College Graduation

By Brooke Bendix, LMSW

So, what does college graduate life look like?

Picture this: You’re zipping your last suitcase, and your college life, as you’ve known for the past four years, is over in a blink. Graduation day has come and gone, and the reality of finishing college is setting in. You’ve spent the last four years buried in textbooks, sitting through hours of class, countless late-night study sessions, and building friendships that will last a lifetime…But as you turn the tassel on your graduation cap, you might wonder the inevitable question: “What’s next?”

You thrived in a structured environment during college, but now you are facing a big transition filled with job searches and new social dynamics. The absence of a syllabus outlining each step forward feels daunting and uncharted. Conversations with friends who had already graduated didn’t help; their tales of high-pressure jobs and the struggle to balance personal and professional life only fueled your anxieties. And the overwhelming worry of whether you can meet your parent’s high expectations. Oh, yeah, and how do I make new friends as an adult??

Going from College to the Working World

For many college graduates, the immediate post-college path is entering the job market. This transition from student to professional can be both exciting and terrifying. It’s time to refine your resume, which should be more than a mere list of courses and casual jobs—it needs to weave your academic achievements and practical experiences into a narrative that appeals to potential employers.

From resume writing to actually applying for jobs post-college, it all can be very overwhelming. Not to mention networking! Yes, I said networking with other professionals in your field or reaching out to those contacts that may be helpful in your job search. Networking should become a part of your daily routine. The relationships you foster with peers, professors, and professionals can open doors to opportunities not advertised to the public. Remember, it’s often not only what you know but who you know that can lead to job offers. Especially in this tough job market these days! First, you have to deal with the emotions associated with graduation and now you have to get an adult job. Yikes!

What if I want to continue to pursue another degree? More school, yes please!

Many professions, such as law or medicine, require additional schooling and graduate school so it doesn’t just stop after four years of undergrad. You keep going!

The thought of continuing your education may be exciting but also daunting at the idea of having two to sometimes up to eight more years of schooling (doctors)! Graduate school is a viable option for those who are not quite ready to leave academia or need advanced qualifications to pursue their chosen careers. Sometimes talking to a school counselor or therapist about your goals and dreams can help you figure out if continuing with more schooling is the right path for you. Reflect on your academic interests and career goals to determine if this path is right for you. There’s lots to consider with these life decisions such as financial investment, time investment, and overall quality of life and longterm goals. Talk with someone, perhaps a young adult therapist or a trusted friend, about your feelings towards these decisions.

Mental Health

The biggest transition of all! Your mental health.

Transitioning from college to the real world presents a major shift in lifestyle and responsibilities, bringing about numerous uncertainties that can be particularly challenging for young adults’ mental health. This period in your life typically involves significant life changes, including adapting to new routines, navigating a lack of structured support, taking on greater responsibilities, and confronting societal expectations. Moreover, the uncertainty surrounding one’s career path during this time can intensify existing mental health concerns or even prompt new ones. This array of changes and pressures can make the post-college transition a critical period for mental health vigilance. It can be downright scary and daunting. But, not to fret, we have some tips for success to guide you through this life transition.

Navigating the Transition When Becoming a College Graduate: Tips for Success From a Young Adult Therapist

 

Here are several strategies to help ease the anxiety and set the foundation for a successful college graduate life:

  1. Develop a Clear Plan: Define clear, achievable goals for your career and personal life. Whether it’s applying for jobs, enrolling in further education, or moving to a new city.
  2. Build a Financial Safety Net: Financial worries are a major stressor during this transition. Educate yourself on budgeting, saving, and managing debt to make you feel more financially stable.
  3. Maintain and Expand Your Network: Stay connected with college friends and professors who can provide support and professional guidance. Join networking sites like Linkedin, which can open doors to job opportunities.
  4. Prioritize Self-Care—Transition periods can be stressful, so it’s important to look after your mental and physical health. Maintain a routine that includes regular exercise, a healthy diet, and sufficient sleep. Hobbies and social activities can also help balance work and life stresses.
  5. Seek Professional Guidance- Don’t hesitate to seek help from a career counselor or a mentor. If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, consider making an appointment at a therapy practice in Michigan.
  6. Be Flexible and Patient-. Be prepared for setbacks and understand that every experience, whether a job you enjoy or don’t, is a valuable part of your journey.

Embracing the Journey Ahead as a College Graduate

As you transition from college to the real world, keep an open mind and be proactive about carving out your own path. It’s normal to feel uncertain and even overwhelmed sometimes, but these feelings are part of growing. Use the skills and knowledge you’ve gained in college to make informed decisions and take calculated risks. Whether you find yourself in a boardroom, a classroom, or traveling the world, remember that the steps you take now are building the foundation of your future.

Becoming a college graduate is a major milestone that marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life. So as graduation celebrations conclude, raise that glass of champagne and let go of the expectations about your post-college life because whether you dive into the workforce, pursue further education, or take a gap year, the key is to move forward with intention and purpose. Reflect on what you have learned about yourself during your college years, and use that knowledge to chart a course that aligns with your personal and professional aspirations. A toast to your future—may it be everything you hope for and more!

 

Get Support Through This Transition with Therapy for Young Adults in West Bloomfield, MI

Whether you’re in West Bloomfield or Farmington Hills, MI, our dedicated therapy practice is here to support you through major life transitions. We understand the challenges of navigating adulthood, and our compassionate young adult therapists are ready to help you every step of the way. To begin your counseling journey, simply follow these steps:

  1. Reach out to talk with our intake coordinator
  2. Meet with a young adult therapist who gets it
  3. Begin your journey towards independence and confidence in your new adult life.

Other Therapy Services we Offer in the Farmington Hills & Wes Bloomfield Area

We offer more than transition counseling for young adults in Michigan.  Other mental health services that we provide at Therapyology include therapy for children of divorce, grief counseling, groups, and workshops. Additionally, we provide Camp Therapyology in Michigan and California.

Our services are available for children, teens, young adults, and parents.