The Basics of Graduating: Refreshing Perspectives

As I highlighted at the start of the previous article in this series, graduation is a really exciting time – the culmination of years of effort. You’ve expanded your knowledge and your skills base, and you’ve also enhanced your life prospects. Graduation time is nearly all positive: a season of optimism and excitement.

Mixed in with the euphoria of graduation, however, you will probably identify other emotions going on too:

  • Exams passed, and no more exams on the horizon. Rejoice!
  • Graduating is a biggie. But what’s next? Top jobs aren’t guaranteed to come along.
  • You’ve become used to the student way of life. Now, life is something new.

Refreshing expectations

It’s okay to dream. In fact, dreaming should be compulsory. Without people who dare to dream the world would be a poorer place – no Google Moonshots, no Elon Musk.

However, the closing months of college and after graduation can be a reality check for many of us – dreamers especially! It’s the point where big dreams meet hard reality. You may find yourself in a different role than you’d hoped for. You may find yourself working the kind of jobs you feel too qualified for. Some people may land their dream job and then decide it’s not for them.

In many ways it doesn’t matter whether post-college life instantly meets your expectations or not. The important thing is to prepare yourself for this transition. Believe me; even people in the role that they’d always dreamed of feel the stress and strain of working life too.

In short – be prepared for occasional failures, and disappointments. Be resilient. And remember – even the life paths of the very successful have twists in them too.

Healthy Habits

My student years weren’t exactly an exercise in healthy living. Food was mainly pizza, and I skimped on sleep. But graduation brought change. I needed eight hours of sleep every night because I came home exhausted after work. A far cry from the times when, as a student, I could nap any time I liked. Even if it was in a lecture!

Health and wellbeing can be a vague concept, so it’s useful to break it down into some key elements:

  • Nutrition: This one may seem obvious. But in the final months of college, you’re at full stretch mentally; it makes sense to ensure you’re eating right. Be sure to get some brain foods in your diet. Don’t be sceptical about healthy eating – just look at some of the meals you can make that are big on taste but also big on healthiness (thanks, Jamie!)
  • Fitness: We all know that physical exercise is great for fitness – even if it’s only a little, it can reduce the risks of various diseases, including cancer (source:  Macmillan Cancer Support survey). Exercise has been described as the closest thing there is to a miracle drug, so powerful is its ability to reduce risks of various problems. On top of that, exercise can make you feel good. So if you’re not currently a member of a gym, graduation time might be just the right time to join, so you can benefit from the stress-reducing properties of exercises at the same time as you embark on life’s new endeavours.
  • Mental health: This one is maybe not spoken about so often. But the stigma surrounding mental health issues is definitely fading, with more discussion of it in the media. If you suffer from stress, anxiety or depression – you’re not alone. In fact with as many as 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing them each year, these mental health issues are common – and nothing to feel ashamed about.Staying mentally healthy is also about monitoring how you feel and asking for help if you need it. Interestingly, a recent Telegraph article entitled Generation Lonely uses recent survey data from AXA PPP that illustrates just how the graduation age group may be affected. According to AXA’s report, a whopping “27 percent of 18- to 24-year olds admit they feel lonely most of the time.” Your social group will be somewhat dispersed when you leave college – people head back to their home town for a bit, or off to new jobs elsewhere. So a bit of loneliness during this transition is only natural – you’re only human. Even if you are ‘only’ a human with a great degree!

Chris Smith is a recent graduate of Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland where he received his BA Hons in Marketing. When he isn’t writing, Chris enjoys drawing as he finds it therapeutic.