Published: April 24, 2020 By
Graduates sit in rows at commencement ceremony

Graduating can feel both exciting and disorienting, even under normal circumstances. While our everyday lives continue to be affected by COVID-19, taking time to figure out your next step can feel a little overwhelming. Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) shares insight into starting this next part of the journey.

Getting oriented

Matt Tomatz, a counselor at CAPS, knows how unfamiliar things can seem when you go from your student life to whatever comes next. His top piece of advice is a classic: Give yourself time for things to take shape.

No matter what kind of life transitions you’re going through, you need time to figure out what things will look like. If you’re moving, this may mean finding new landmarks and favorite spots that will make the new place feel like home; in a new job or school, this may mean making new social connections to create a sense of community.

Nothing happens overnight, but when you take consistent action and go at a steady pace, you can become comfortable even when things feel uncertain. Post-graduation life is a chance to shape how you view and interact with the world, establish new routines and create a new relationships and experiences on your own terms.

Shifting identities

Finding your place when you don’t have an identity like “college student” to use can be a little unsettling, but it’s also a great chance to develop your sense of self. Now is the time to ask yourself: What do you like? What’s shaped you into the person you are and allowed you to come this far? What is most important to you? What do you want to be about?

As you answer these questions, you can get clear on what you want to do, how you want to live, and who you want in your circle of friends. Without the pressure to fit your old role (or even fit into a new one too soon), you get the freedom to explore and be curious. Over time, as you settle into your post-graduation identity, things start to feel more natural. You can befriend new people and colleagues from all walks of life, find your place in a new city or just start a new hobby.

Making the most of now

As you approach graduation, you have the opportunity to utilize the resources available as you become Forever Buffs. Get virtually connected with Career Services to go over your résumé, practice interviewing, identify your strengths and explore possible pathways.

If you feel anxious during the transition, remember that this will pass.