Personal Development

The Truth Nobody Tells You About Finishing College

Finishing college is the dream of students everywhere, as the stress of assignment deadlines and late nights become memories. However, college doesn't always prepare you for what comes next.

Congratulations! You have made it through tertiary level education and come out on the other side. As a recent fellow graduate, I think that anyone who survives their college courses intact deserves a gold star, but I suppose a degree is close enough.

For anyone who has ever pursued any form of further education, you will understand how difficult and time consuming it can be. Depending on how heavy your course workload is, college can become your whole world and time for anything else is a luxury.

After completing my own four-year English degree, and developing a slight coffee dependency, I have found that post-college life is different than what I expected. Here are a few feelings you may be able to relate to.

You win some, you lose some

Portrait of student girl working on laptop

While I am happy that my hard work has paid off in the form of a good grade for my degree, it has also left me grieving for the life I once had. College offered a stable routine and provided me with a sense of purpose, which I felt that I was lacking at first. As is the solution to any form of grief, all you can do is give yourself some time to adjust.

Fear inevitably sets in

Unfortunately, there is often the fear that we have set ourselves on the wrong path by going to the wrong college or choosing the wrong subject. After studying English, I worried that I should have chosen to study a more employable area, such as engineering, accounting, marketing or nursing; sadly, I lack numerical skills and do not do well with blood.

On top of these fears, there is also the worry of being able to find a suitable job. When you hear that others from your course have managed to secure a job within months of graduating, it can be quite disheartening as you compare your situation to theirs. While this may seem like a difficult thought to avoid, it is important to remember that we each have our own dreams and ambitions, meaning that another person's ideal job might not be the same as yours.

Finding a job is a full-time job

young student waiting for the bus in the morning

It's a cliché, I know, but it doesn't mean it is not true. For four years, being a full-time student has essentially been my job, and now I've found myself at a bit of a loss where finding my first graduate job has become my full-time job.

I was by no means under the impression that I would find employment easily, but I do admit that I hadn't imagined that I would find it this difficult either. At times like this, it can be helpful to take comfort in speaking to friends and family—particularly friends who are or have been in a similar situation as they can reassure you that something will eventually come along.

Remember to give yourself a break

Portrait of a young beautiful woman sitting smiling in her home office space using a smartphone mobile phone

You don't need to have everything figured out all at once. You have worked hard to get this far and have achieved a great feat, so take a moment to appreciate that. Well done!

It's true that trying to stay positive can be the best thing you can do as it helps productivity when it comes to the dreaded job search. However, staying positive can also be the hardest thing to do sometimes as we tend to be our own worst enemies.

I have definitely hit my low points after months of either not hearing back from applications at all, or finally securing interviews only to be rejected without any explanation.

Like any setback in life, the best cure is to cry it out if necessary, but above all it is important to remember to take a breath and not give up. I have learned a lot as a result of education, but this first post college year has taught me to not be too hard on myself.

While I have not yet managed to secure my first professional job that will hopefully make my college course choice worthwhile, that does not mean that I won't. Nor does it mean that my degree is worthless and that I have wasted my time.

Learning and growing as a person through the experiences that education and life can offer is never a waste of time. Aside from making some life-long friends I have also come to understand that I can handle a heavy workload and stress better than I ever thought I could, so there is nothing to suggest that I am unable to do it again.

Now, go on: Celebrate your clever self and any victories you may have, be they big or small. Everyone struggles in their life at one point or another so remember that you are not lost; you are just on a new journey to an unknown destination.

About the author

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Amy Dignam

Amy is a lover of pizza, Netflix, and Simpson quotes; although she also enjoys the finer things in life such as good music, good books and good friends. She believes that a problem shared is a problem halved, and that the best thing you can do is to show kindness in a cruel world.

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