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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Let’s change the narrative surrounding post-graduation plans

It is important for graduating seniors to enjoy the last few months of college and not stress too much about the future 

The five months until spring commencement will pass swiftly, especially for graduating seniors. The stressful, anxiety-inducing — yet also quite exciting — search for jobs after college has already begun for many Aggies set to graduate this spring. While it is exciting to ask friends and classmates about their post-graduation plans, students should be conscious about these questions to not further worry students. 

One of the most distressing parts of graduating for many students is the uncertainty of where to go, what to do next and how to support oneself after college. Graduating is an incredibly thrilling (but also, scary) time for students to have more freedom to start something new. For many, their lives up to this point have been planned out and directed by school, but now there are more opportunities. Post Commencement Stress Disorder (PCSD) affects some recent graduates “facing the task of choosing, changing or pursuing a career beyond the protective bubble provided by the traditional college campus,” Psychology Today reported. 

It can be hard for students to feel excited about these new opportunities when they are so wrapped up in the application process. Whether they are applying for jobs, internships or graduate schools, the process is quite taxing and requires ample time, effort, energy and even money. It takes an average of three to six months for college students to secure a job after they graduate. With many requiring unique cover letters, letters of recommendation or personal essays, applying to jobs is a job in itself

With the job market becoming increasingly competitive, many students fresh out of college must apply to many jobs to be hired for just one of them. While there are some programs specifically for recent graduates, many job listings recommend or require several years of experience. These extensive prerequisites inherently disadvantage new graduates, especially those who do not have prior work experience. It can be challenging for students to find time in their busy schedules to apply to many jobs, which heightens the stress and anxiety of students.

Some of the anxiety induced by graduation also comes from feeling judged at the kind of work students want to go into right after college. Some students are not looking to get a professional 9-5 p.m. desk job right away — or ever. Some students need a financially stable job right after college; some want to return home to be with their families; some want to take time off. Regardless of what students decide to do, it is important to remember that they do not have to land the most prestigious job right after college. Students should never feel judged by their plans as there is no right way to spend time after graduation.

We understand the excitement of asking about your friends’ and classmates’ post-grad plans, but for many, these questions heighten the already intense anxiety. Likely the best way to avoid stressing someone out is to wait for them to tell you. But, if you must ask, bringing up these questions casually can help prevent them from sounding judgemental or like an interrogation session. Everyone will have different preferences for how they like to be asked about their plans — or if they even like to be asked these questions at all. It is important to be conscious of others’ body language during these conversations, and if someone looks uncomfortable because of the questions, it is best to ease up on asking. 

Supporting oneself after graduation takes a lot of different forms depending on so many factors and will always differ from person to person. Students must also take care of themselves during the job application process. With so much time and effort demanded by applications, students should make decisions about how to best support themselves — and not to please others — throughout the process.

It is important to think about the future after graduating, but it is not worth stressing too much about these plans. There is not one correct direction for students after college and everyone will find a path that works best for them. In their last few months at UC Davis, graduating Aggies should be enjoying the end of college, because for many, this will be their last time going to school or living in Davis.

Written by: The Editorial Board