My friend turned to me the other day, a sad look glazing her eyes; “I can’t believe I’m graduating.” I nodded with her, though I had graduated a year earlier. “What are you going to miss most?”
“My friends, and the parties, and maybe even class too. I just don’t know what I’ll do with myself.”
I get it. Graduating is scary, and hard, and annoying, and uncomfortable. Everything you’ve known for the last 20 years of your life is about to change. You’ll be officially classified as an adult, and that means you have to start pretending you are one. But everyone does it eventually, and just like you were able to join into the college experience in the first place, you now get to do the big step of finishing the race. And, just like everyone before you, you won’t be doing it alone. Here are three pieces of advice I wish I had before graduation began:
1.) Graduation generally is hot.
Even if it’s 50 degrees outside that day, it is going to be warm. You’ll be sitting for a long time while your entire graduating class goes up to cross the stage, and then sitting again while the rest of your class does the same. You are in at least two layers, one of which being black, and the gown does not breathe. Bring a fan or at least something to help cool down.
2.) Take pictures of everything and everyone.
You never know when you’ll see all these people in the same place again. Take the time to record every chance you get of the people who have made your college experience. In 10 years or even 1 year, you’ll have the ability to look back and see everyone together, and remember it as it was. Your graduation can pose as a reminder of the people who helped you get there, rather than the end of your time with them.
3.) It is okay not to have a job lined up.
You have time, and you have resources at your disposal. The stress can get to be a lot, but there are so many options for your future that this one decision isn’t going to make or break anything. At the end of the day, making ends meet while you search for your dream job is okay, and so is giving yourself a few weeks after graduation if you have that option. You are not required to find your lifelong career within the 2 months leading to graduation; you have your entire life to do that. It is okay to take your time to find a job that is truly yours.
4.) Your life isn’t over just because college is.
You’ve spent 20 years in school, and now you’re looking toward a time where that may not be a thing anymore. That doesn’t mean you peaked, or that your fun has to end. You can do anything you want outside of college, even more now that you’re of age. Think of how many places you could go, how many people you could meet now that you aren’t confined to your graduating class. Go rent a car and see the world. You deserve it.
5.) If you really miss it, you can always go back.
College is never an end, really. A professor of mine likes to say “the truly knowledgeable seek out knowledge at every turn,” and that is an option too. If a doctorate or even a master’s degree is too much, you can always go for certificate programs that let you dabble in a topic for a few semesters. Or you can even take individual classes if you would really like. It won’t be exactly the same as undergrad, but then again, it’ll be pretty close. You’ll still meet people and do things you may never have expected. It is still an opportunity to do college again.