I vividly remember packing our car to capacity with items for my new dorm room at Howard University as I prepared to begin my freshman year in college. Fast-forward three years later and I am trying to mentally prepare myself for what my life will be like after I graduate in May 2014.
The countdown to graduation has begun for many students and if you are like me, I’m sure you can use every bit of advice to make the transition from a college student to a young professional smoother. Consider these suggestions as you mentally prepare for the next phase of your life.
1. Realize that you are graduating
After you triple check the graduation requirements at your university and confirm that you will be graduating, accept it. Envision what you want your life to be like after you receive your hard-earned diploma. If you haven’t already done so, sketch out your 5 year plan and your 10 year plan. Create an action plan and work towards it. Make sure you are not in denial about graduation because you don’t want the big day to come without being prepared.
2. Make the transition easy on yourself
Have a Plan A, B, C and D if necessary to ensure that you will have something lined up to further your professional career. Whatever plans you have for life after graduation, do your homework to try to have a smooth transition. If you are offered a job or accepted into graduate school, use your last semester to visit the area (if possible) and get familiar with where you will soon live, possibly even meet people in the area. The more prepared you are, the easier the transition will be.
3. Continue to build and maintain your network
You have established various personal and professional relationships since you began college so it is essential to plan for continuing those connections. You will no longer see all of people who you interacted with during the last four years on a daily basis so think about the relationships that you would like to maintain. Take the necessary steps to make sure you have their contact information to keep in touch. This goes for not only students but the staff at your university as well.
4. Be absorbent like a sponge
One of the best things that you can do to mentally prepare for graduation is to talk to recent college graduates, particularly people who graduated within the last 5 years, about their transition. Ask them about how they prepared for life after college and use their advice to help guide you. But keep in mind that their story is not your story so you may not have the same experience. However, their testimony will give you an idea of what life after college is like.
5. Enjoy it while you can
Soon you will no longer be inside the comfortable walls of your college campus. You will fully be considered an adult with adult responsibilities and adult consequences. So enjoy being a student while you can, as long as you handle your responsibilities first. Create a bucket list of things that you want to do before you graduate so you leave your university knowing that you did everything that you wanted to do, even if that includes having a water balloon fight on main campus. This is the year to maximize every opportunity, personal and professional, that you are presented with.
It’s important to understand that even with a plan and proper preparation, the transition from college to the working world will not be easy. But just like it took some time to get adjusted to college, it will take time to get used to life after college as well.
Former Queens, do you have any tips on mentally preparing for life after college for soon to be graduates? Current Queens, how are you mentally preparing for graduation?