For many non-traditional students, Commencement Day will be a day of celebration on a Saturday or Sunday, followed by back to work on Monday morning. The adult or non-traditional learner has mastered the art of juggling school, family and work, and will look at graduation as an opportunity to take a breath. Fitting classes into work and family life is not easy, and completing that final course means that you have just gained back a significant amount of time per week to fill with new responsibilities perhaps, and best of all, you now have the degree that you desired.
For traditional students, those students who graduated from high school and went directly to college, the transition from college to the next stage in your life, the real world as it is sometimes referred, can be more dramatic. Alena Hall, in her article on the Huffington Post last Friday, puts it this way, “While the first year out of college may be one of the most exciting of your life, it can also come with its fair share of anxiety and uncertainty.” The article continues:
“Whether you’re about to move across the county, start your first job, backpack throughout Europe or panic about not knowing your next steps from the comfort of your parents’ couch, this next year could be one of the most challenging transition years of your life. But you can take a more mindful approach to the unknown, and prep your mind and body to handle whatever life throws your way.”
The article describes how to maintain your health and sanity during the year of big change. Most of the ideas are common sense and would be helpful to most people at any time. However, it is not a bad idea to review these tips, as they can certainly assist in reducing some of the stress that accompanies a major life change. Tips such as, maintain a daily routine with plenty of sleep and exercise, read for fun, invest in relationships, and learn how to cook.
I would also add to the list to continue to build your professional network, and maintain contact with the career services office at your alma mater. Whether you’ve landed a job, are still searching, spending a year on a service project, or heading off for graduate school, your network of professional colleagues and friends will be a source of support, from moral support to helping you make connections with a possible future employer.
My favorite, and I think most important tip, is the final one from the article, “accept that you have a lot to learn—and look forward to it”. Continuing, “You aren’t going to have the rest of your life figured out in this next year — just a couple of the next steps. So spend your days experiencing life, learning as much as you can, and staying excited for what your future holds. With your health and sanity intact, you have a solid foundation that will last a lifetime.”
My congratulations and best wished to all of the 2014 graduates.