So, You Graduated! (Congrats!) Now What?

1. Take a deep breath

Relax. Take it all in. The blood, sweat, and tears have finally paid off. You made it, with diploma in hand and dignity (mostly) intact. The pressure of college life has finally lifted, and you were the one to do it. No need to start panicking about trying to get into grad school, med school, or getting that job you’ve been desperately preparing for. You’re gonna want to let your mind drift to life after college. How could it not? No more meal plans and no more classrooms. All of a sudden you’ve been jettisoned into the real world, which isn’t nearly as forgiving as your favorite professor. But don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to panic about what’s ahead. For now, bask in your great accomplishment. Look around at your peers and say it together: Damn, we made it. If you don’t feel like a million bucks after walking across that stage, then you’re doing it wrong.

2. Do something with the family

So, yea, we all know you were the one who had to do it. You pulled your hair out taking 21 credits. You were the one finishing papers just as the sun was rising. You put up with the ruthless professors and teeth grating classmates. You juggled the job, the internship, AND accounting just so you can get that cap and gown. You da’ best. Still, it’s unlikely that you got through it all without at least some help from your family. Let them know how much you appreciate all they’ve done for you, from paying for your tuition, picking you up from campus, or simply granting a sympathetic ear to your constant complaints. They were with you every step of the way, and we all know those steps would have been mighty tougher walked alone.

3. Do something for yourself

Okay, but seriously, you made it happen. That’s worth more than a pat on the back, right? Make sure to treat yourself to something special, whether it’s a night out with your friends, a PS4, or a really expensive milkshake. Who cares what it is? You’ve earned it.

4. Plan your next steps

Time to get serious. Are you going to grad school? If so, where? Will you be able to get in? What about that connect who said he might hook you up with that interview with ESPN? Are you ready for it? What about where you’re living? Are you staying in your college’s city/town? Are your parents about ready to kick you out the house? And just how empty is that bank account? With so many variables to consider, it’s important to just take a beat and get things in order. Make sure that resumé is in tip top shape. Set aside time to study for that GRE. Talk your options over with your parents/guardians and your friends, who are no doubt in a similar boat. Get in touch with some of those connects you made while in college. Now’s not the time to panic. Consider yourself the general of your own, one man army. Keep a calm, level head and plan your moves like the future boss that you are.

5. Carpe diem!

Malcolm X told us that education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today. Dr. Suess said you can steer yourself in the direction you choose. Yoda, always the straight shooter, told us do or do not, there is no try. Real or fictitious, these guys have a point.  You’ve taken that ever important deep breath. You’ve made time for yourself and your loved ones. And you know exactly what you want to happen for you. All that’s left to do is to make it happen…. Well, what are you waiting for? Get to work!

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