Beat the senior scaries with need-to-know tips for graduates

Beat the senior scaries with tips for graduates

Here are a few helpful ways to tackle the last few weeks of class fearlessly.
Published: April 22, 2019
Graduation cap reads

Whether you secured your job last September or are still on the hunt for your first post-grad gig, these last few weeks of school for the seniors can be overwhelming. Half of you wants to go out and celebrate with your friends, while the other half of you can’t stop feeling, well, scared about graduation and all that comes after it in just three short weeks. And while we can’t promise to fully eliminate those panicked feelings completely, we compiled some helpful tips to help ease your senior scaries enough to enjoy — and even get excited — about the weeks to come. Check them out below!

Realize You Aren’t Alone

It might seem like the only emotion you should be feeling as graduation creeps is elation. You’re accomplishing a big feat, and that is super exciting. But it’s also natural and normal to feel sadness, anxiety and fear.

“I tend to think about graduation (especially college graduation) as a type of life transition — these are often associated with both positive and negative emotions,” said Adam Fried, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at Midwestern University, to the lifestyle site

“The negative ones are often related to uncertainty about what their future life will look like, changes in expectations and concerns about whether this major life transition will lead to happiness,” he said.

The positive side, Fried offers tips on how to deal with graduation anxiety so your emotions don’t ruin the big day. The first tip? Acceptance.

“Students often express that they shouldn’t feel anxious or fearful . . . I have found it helpful to let students know that’s not unusual,” Fried said.

Luke Rafferty / File Photo

Make a Plan

Sitting down and making a plan is a great way not only to stay organized but also to help channel some of that anxious energy. It can be as simple as listing things you want to accomplish each week.

Think about what your goals are. Do you want to focus on the job search right away? Are you going to graduate school? Do you want or need to live at home to save money? How does that affect your job search? What’s your budget like?

These are great questions to help you figure out exactly what you want. Then, think about how you can achieve these things. Are there people you can network with? Internship opportunities that can help you get your foot in the door?

Most importantly, remember that everyone’s timeframe is different, and there is not a set deadline for figuring everything out. Some people have it all figured out even before graduation and some people find their niche a few months after.

Remember to have patience. And don’t get frustrated if you don’t figure everything out right away.

Network, Network, Network

What’s the saying nowadays? It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. So if there’s one piece of advice you should take from these past four years, it should be: network, network, network.

There are tons of industry professionals who are always looking to give back to students, especially those who went to their alma mater. Of course, you’ll stumble across some professionals that aren’t as friendly or simply too busy to meet or network with you. But there’s no harm in reaching out to pick someone’s brain over a cup of coffee, even if it’s only for fifteen minutes.

Some common ground rules:

Never directly ask someone for a job. Try to make genuine conversation with them and check in every few months, not just when you want something from them.

Do your research and ask thoughtful questions. Showing up to a cocktail hour or coffee date without researching your contact can make you seem uninformed and lazy, especially since it’s as easy as a search on LinkedIn.

Remember how you you felt as a recent graduate. Most importantly, don’t forget how eager you were to make connections when you start getting requests from students who want to network with you.

Amanda B. Piela / File Photo

Make a Budget

This tip might come a little late, seeing as everyone has been telling you to budget your money since you were a freshman. But, seeing as it’s much more fun to spend your savings on Calios and Flip Night at Faegan’s, a few of you may be on the lower side when it comes to the digits in your bank account.

Still, it’s never too late to start. Especially since the real world is full of expenses like rent, groceries and going out that tend to add up. Even if you’ve locked down a good job, budgeting is super important to keep track of spending and save for the future.

Start with a personal finance app. Many of them are available for little or no charge. These apps track your spending and current account balance, as well as give you info on how to better your credit store. That can help everything from apartment rent to cable and electricity costs.

Cut down on unnecessary purchases. Like that coffee you bought this morning, for example. Buy the grounds in bulk and make your caffeinated drink at home to save almost $35 dollars a week, if you’re a daily coffee buyer.

Make a budget. U.S. News and World Report suggests dividing up expenses into categories and allotting a monthly budget based on your income with the help of a finance app. Doing this can help you plan for recurring payments like rent, groceries, health and wellness activities and going out.

Prioritize within those categories. Recognize what is absolutely necessary. Put a small amount of your earnings toward an emergency fund that you can easily access, even though you hopefully never have to. A simple Google search will inspire hundreds of ways to save, like buying bigger cuts of protein at the grocery store to cut up and use for meal prepping.

Take Time Off

All work and no play will leave you stressed, tense and on the verge of a breakdown. Designating certain days for self-care is a great way to remind yourself to schedule necessary Me Time. Self-care can range from sleeping in, indulging in a face mask, a movie night or going out with your friends.

Of course, it’s important to set limits. But finding cheap ways to have some fun every once in a while will help keep you sane as you trudge through the early 20s.

Embrace the Uncertainty

In the end, you’ll never be able to be as carefree, irresponsible and occasionally reckless as you can be in your 20s. Sure, it’s a time filled with uncertainties as you navigate new jobs, cities and friends, but your 20s are your first true time to stand on your own and really figure out who you want to me.

You have the freedom to move and take on new opportunities without having the responsibility of a family yet. If you want to stay out till 4 a.m., no one can stop you.

It’s not advisable to always be irresponsible and reckless, but one of the best things about graduating college is the uncertainty of it. Graduating means you have the chance to make your life into anything you want it to be.