Art by Sybil Zhang
As spring break approaches, students might become more aware of what time in college they have left. For those nearing graduation, a panic might set in. These could be the last midterms a student takes in their life. These could be a student’s last few months of stability for a while. This could be the last time a student has a week off at the beginning of March, the final opportunity to take a vacation when flights aren’t overwhelmingly expensive.
Then a graduating senior might realize that they should have their life figured out by now. Everyone else has their lives figured out. College was a time to explore, but now graduating seniors are about to enter the “Real World.” They are about to become Real Adults and should have Real Careers.
Not exactly. While graduation does mark the end of an era, life will go on whether or not the graduate has things figured out. Besides, chances are they won’t.
Finding a single career right now to devote oneself to for the rest of one’s life is both uncommon and unrealistic. According to The Balance, a website that offers job searching tools and career advice, the average person will change jobs ten to fifteen times in their life.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that most of those job changes take place between the ages of 18 and 24. The question often posed to students when exploring possible careers is, “What can you see yourself doing for the rest of your life?” An easier question to answer, and a more useful one, is, “What step do you want to take right now?” If the student can answer that question, chances are they’re on the right track.
According to a Pepperdine survey of the class of 2015 conducted six months after graduation, 87 percent of the graduates were employed, accepted to graduate school, volunteering full-time, or serving in the military. Those who don’t see themselves being part of that 87 percent, or who worry about not making it, still have options after graduation.
There is the possibility of returning to live with one’s parents after graduation. Even though that is commonly looked down upon in the U.S., the number of students living with their parents after graduation is rising. An article from CNBC states that in 2014, more than 32 percent of millennials lived at home with their parents and only 14 percent lived independently or with roommates.
While it might seem like everyone has their lives together, recent graduates are really all on the same page.
It is important not to fall into the trap of comparison. As classmates and coworkers begin posting selfies from their dream jobs or writing blog posts about having saved the whales, it is easy to ask, “Why am I not doing that?” and in doing so devalue one’s own accomplishments. For some, success will come quickly and seemingly easily. For others, more time will be needed to establish a firm foothold in a chosen career. This is perfectly normal.
In her 2008 Harvard commencement address, author J.K. Rowling said that she considered herself to be a failure, with a number of life events not going according to her plan. Years later, after achieving phenomenal success through her “Harry Potter” series, Rowling credits the time that she spent “failing” as being beneficial. “The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive,” Rowling said. “You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity.” It is through experiencing setbacks that one is better prepared for future successes and there are many tools available to help navigate through this transition.
The Pepperdine Counseling Center has resources to help students de-stress, and offers free individual and group counseling. The Mayo Clinic says that having a support system of people to fall back on when stressed is vital. Whether a student is stressing about something minor or major, talking it out can help. Friends can offer reassurance and likely relate to the situation, and a mental health professional can provide helpful tools and an outside perspective.
Regardless of the student’s plans after graduation, it’s important to enjoy the present and not let stress about the future keep them from living life. If this is the last spring break of the student’s college career, make it a great one.
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