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  • Writer's pictureLiz Morrison, LCSW

How to Handle Life After Graduating From College

Making the Most of Life After Graduating From College

You made it through college. The memories will stick with you forever. But what about what happens next? When you started college, it was an unknown entity. One that you learned to adapt to and navigate with the help of your friends, professors, parents, and counselors.

But how do you know what to do after graduating from college? How do you move from the comforts of built-in friends, weekly sporting events, parties, and classes, to a full-time job and living on your own?

We know that life after graduation is scary. But we’ve come up with a few suggestions for you. It shouldn't surprise you that one of them is to see a counselor regularly. But there are other helpful things on our list to help guide you as you enter into the unknown. Either way, we hope that this guide helps you envision what life after graduating from college could be like for you.

In our four-blog series about dealing with the unknown, we’ve returned to give you a few tips and tricks to help you manage your expectations about how to navigate life after graduation.

Entering the Unknown – What to Do After Graduating From College

Life after graduation is a big unknown. It can be hard to know what to expect. Change is difficult and leaving the comfort of school can be scary. It’s important to lean on the people in your life who have been through what you’re facing.

Talk to your older friends who’ve recently graduated. Likely they’ll have advice for you and will bring a different perspective on life after college.

College is a time of experimentation. That doesn’t stop when you graduate, it just looks different. In school, you’re figuring out what you want to do with your life, who you want your friends to be, and what your interests are. When you graduate, you start to form a version of the adult you want to become.

We know the unknown is scary, but there are so many possibilities out there. Yes, the endless possibilities can be overwhelming. This is why it’s important to narrow your focus. Don’t be afraid to try things. Be open to new, unexpected opportunities. Trust yourself to make decisions that will propel you forward into this new chapter of your life.

Being an adult is hard, but you’ve already done hard things. College prepared you for life after graduation. You worked hard to achieve your goals in school. You’ll do the same after you graduate. It just might take a little while to adjust to life after school.

It’s important to trust yourself and the people who got you to where you are now. If you wait to do things when you feel ready, you’ll never take the next step. Life after college can be anything you want it to be. You just need to be ready to try new things and even fail a few times. Each “failure” is a teaching moment that will help you grow into the next version of yourself.

What to Expect From Life After Graduation

Everyone’s path is different, but most likely you’ll leave college and search for a job. Maybe you’ve had part-time jobs before or did work-study in school. But entering into a full-time job will be different.

There are so many paths you can take when it comes to working that it’s hard to tell you what work will be like for you. You could get a corporate job, work 40+ hours a week, and wear suits every day. Or you could end up working for a startup, work from home in sweatpants, and choose your own hours.

Expect the unexpected and don’t be afraid of change. Your job will change, where you live will change, your friends will change, and all of that is okay. In fact, it’s to be expected.

You’ll have a lot of decisions to make as a young adult fresh out of college. Don’t compare yourself and your choices to your friends. Everyone is forging their own path.

Maybe you spend a year living with your parents and saving money. Maybe you move to a different city where you don’t know anyone and live on your own, make new friends, and work at a job you love. Whatever your path, it isn’t set in stone. We’re all constantly evolving and growing into different and new versions of ourselves. Who you are at 22 is going to be very different than who you are at 30. Enjoy young adulthood and all the opportunities it has to offer.

Tips and Tricks for Making the Most of Life After Graduating From College

We’ve put together a list of five tips and tricks to help you navigate the unknown that is life after graduating from college. Hopefully, these will help you figure out how to manage your expectations about life after school and deal with what comes next.

1. See a counselor. Even if you don’t have a mental health diagnosis, it’s a good idea to go to therapy on a regular basis, especially during a time of change and dealing with the unknown.

If you don’t already have one, find a counselor who works specifically with young adults and has experience working with people managing life after graduation. If you do have a therapist that you already see, make sure you maintain that relationship.

We recommend, at least in the beginning, seeing your therapist every week. They can help you sort through the changes and the uncertainty of what happens after you graduate from school. If you move away from your therapist and can’t see them virtually, ask if they can refer you to someone in your new location.

2. Spend time with friends. Keep in touch with your friends from college. It’s possible that many of them will move away for a job or change locations and start fresh but keep in contact with them. Your friends got you through college when things were tough – that’s a special bond that doesn’t go away, even if you don’t get to see each other all the time.

As important as it is to keep in touch with your college friends, it’s also important to be open to making new friends. Maybe you make friends at work. If you like to work out you could join a gym or a yoga studio or somewhere that has group classes and make friends that way. You never know where you’ll find new friends, so be open to meeting new people.

3. Join a club or a team sport. There are lots of ways to meet new people, which will be important in shaping your identity in this next phase of your life. Adult recreation leagues have sports like soccer and football but they also have sports like kickball and bowling – you don’t need to be good at sports to join a league and meet new people.

Maybe you really like to read and would be interested in joining a book club. Or perhaps you’re crafty and find a knitting or crocheting club. There are also Meetups, which are a great way to meet people with similar interests as you.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your family, friends, and counselors are there for you during this time of transition. Talk to them about your fears of not knowing what to do after graduating from college.

If you’re not ready to live on your own and your parents are open to it, it’s okay to spend time living at home for a bit while you figure out your next move.

Life after graduation is hard, and it’s important to lean on the people in your life who care about you.

5. Remember that whatever job you get out of college isn’t the job you’ll have forever. Some people land their dream job right out of college. That might be you, but if it isn’t, that’s ok.

Your first job after you graduate probably isn’t going to be your only job ever. You’ll have lots of different jobs. You might change careers a few times. You might decide to go back to school. Don’t dismiss opportunities, even if they aren’t exactly what you expected you’d be doing after college.

We know times are hard right now for everyone, but especially for new graduates entering the unknown. If you’re looking for support about what to do after graduating from college, we’re here to help. Book a free consult to talk to our professional social workers today.


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