Published: May 1, 2019

nullGraduating from school can feel both exciting and disorienting. Whether your student is starting a new job, attending graduate school or taking time to figure out the next step, this stage comes with a variety of changes and potentially new challenges. We spoke with Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) to get some insight into how you can support your student during this next part of the journey.

Getting oriented

Matt Tomatz, a counselor at CAPS, reminds us how unfamiliar things can seem for our student when they transition from student life to whatever comes next. His top piece of advice is a classic: remind them that it takes time.

No matter what life transitions may be taking place, let your student know we all need time to figure out what things will look like. If they’re moving, suggest they find new landmarks and favorite spots that will make the new place feel like home. In a new job or school, encourage them to make new social connections to get a sense of community.

Nothing happens overnight, but going at our own natural pace helps us feel comfortable even when things feel uncertain. Talk to your student about how post-graduation life is a chance to shape how we view and interact with the world, establish a new routine and create a new “normal” on our own terms.

Shifting identities

Acknowledge that finding their place without a "college student" identity can be a little unsettling. It’s also a great chance for them to explore and develop a new sense of self. What do they like? Where are they from? What’s shaped them into the person they are and allowed them to come this far?

When we can answer these questions freely, it gets easier to connect with people in all sorts of contexts. Support them in finding the freedom to be their full selves, without the pressure to fit an old role (or even fit into a strict new one). It starts to feel more natural befriending colleagues with different levels of experience, finding our place in a new city or just starting a new hobby.

Making the most of now

As your student becomes a Forever Buff, they still have some time to enjoy campus and use available resources. Suggest they connect with Career Services to go over their resume, practice interviewing and explore possible pathways.

If your student is feeling nostalgic already, encourage them to soak it all in. Recommend lunch on Norlin Quad, bowling at The Connection or meeting up with friends at a favorite coffee shop. However they can enjoy this time and soak it in, remind them that they’ve earned it!