The Class of 2012 has reason to celebrate. They’re among the 56% of college students who stuck it out and finished a college degree in under 6 years,1 they found their calling, and they are prepared to make an impact on the world. However, with rising student debt, a volatile job market, and an overall uncertain economic future, many students may also be leaving with anxiety about entering the workforce.
Graduation, whether in 1960 or 2012 or in an up or down economy, can bring a mixed bag of emotions. Our evolving society provides each generation a unique perspective as they leave the comfort of academia, but we all have common emotions, thoughts, and questions as we step into a new environment that possesses some level of uncertainty. Change is a dichotomy. This exciting time full of parties, toasts, friends, and family can also bring pangs of sadness.
Just like your transition from high school to college, your transition to the working world will change many daily routines that have been deeply integrated with what makes you feel comfortable and makes you feel like you. How will you react to a lifestyle without professors who create deadlines and a university that determines your daily schedule? How many college friends will you see again? Are you ready for the next level of independence? How will you spend your nights without homework?
On the flip side, these questions can also spark exhilaration for the new world you are entering. How high can you set your career goals and how hard are you willing to work to get there? What kind of people do you hope to meet in a new city? What are you ready to leave behind? How are you going to spend your free time? How will you stay in touch with professors and friends?
As you leave college, be conscious of the new openings in your life and embrace the new experiences the world has to offer. You now have time, space, and knowledge to truly explore who you are. Be faithful to the transition process: explore, trust, and be open. Walk forward courageously as you remember who you are.
1“Why College Students Stop Short of a Degree,” by Lou Carloz. 27 March 2012. Reuters. Accessed on 16 May 2012. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/27/us-attn-andrea-education-dropouts-idUSBRE82Q0Y120120327