You’ve Graduated College…What Now?

Graduation! It’s a time filled with excitement, anticipation, relief, and let’s be honest…a bit of anxiety about what the future holds. You are now facing the “real world” full of high expectations and uncertainty about life and career paths.

Some may even experience post-graduate depression. These emotions can feel extremely isolating, but remember you are not alone. Let’s talk about how to move forward once you receive that diploma.

Set Realistic Expectations

You have been dreaming of graduation since the first semester of college. However, it may not be exactly how you pictured it. College does not necessarily prepare you for the challenges of applying for and finding jobs, losing close friends, finding housing, and changing your entire routine.

This transition can cause some panic, but remember that this is a normal part of entering the work force. Start setting small, manageable goals and celebrate every achievement along the way!

Stay Connected

In college, you are constantly surrounded by your close friends. After graduation, you may start to realize that many of your friends are moving away to follow their own personal career path, or perhaps they become busy and cannot spend as much time with you.

It can feel lonely not having your friends around all the time, which is why it is important to stay in contact with them. Set some time during the week to go grab dinner or have a movie night. Make plans with them for the weekend.

Don’t forget about your distant friends either! Set aside time to call or FaceTime them or make a plan to go visit. Having a support network can provide comfort and reassurance for the challenging adjustment into the work force.

Set Goals and Take Action

While it’s natural to feel uneasy about your career path at first, setting goals can help provide a sense of direction and purpose. Start with overall dream goals, such as where you want to end up working, living, and what you want to do with your life. Once you have the large picture, start breaking down steps to get there. Setting small goals helps with maintaining motivation and gives you a sense of pride for completing them.

The follow-through is just as important as identifying your goals. Take action and try to work on something productive each week.


Take time to reflect and appreciate all of the hard work and effort you put in to reach this point in your life. Graduating college was not an easy task, and life will only present more challenges along the way. Make sure to celebrate every milestone like getting your first job, receiving your first paycheck, renting or buying your first place, and just being out on your own.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

When it comes to post-graduate depression, the first step towards healing is simply to acknowledge that these feelings are present. Feeling sad, lonely, and uncertain are all normal and valid emotions of graduation. It’s okay to miss having lots of close friends, going to classes, socializing, and having fun.

Work through these emotions and be grateful for the experiences. You are allowed to grieve the ending of this phase of life. Reach out to support systems and reminisce about the memories together.

Focus on Self-Care

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle after college is going to help with feelings of depression and anxiety. Explore cooking meals, developing an exercise routine, engaging in pleasurable activities after work, and building social networks. Work does not need to consume every hour of every day. Be sure to carve out time to care for yourself daily.

Seek Professional Help

The transition out of college can be quite the challenge. It may be beneficial to seek help from a mental health professional. Counselors can help support you through this adjustment period and help you manage and work towards personal and professional goals. Reach out and schedule a session today!