4 Things No One Tells You About Life After College and How To Cope

Girl standing in the middle of the road shaking a bottle of champagne

Life After College

If you find yourself reading this post you are likely fast approaching graduation or you are already living that post grad life. I remember really struggling in the months after college graduation. While it was a really exciting time and I had my next steps laid out, I was also undergoing some major life transitions. Life after college was a lot to navigate by myself. If you find yourself in a similar position, keep reading for some reasons why this adjustment from college life is so hard and some ideas on how to cope with life after school.

The celebrating is done, and you’re starting to settle into your new life after graduation. The positive momentum you have been riding leading up to and post grad are long gone. Your new reality is starting to set in, and maybe it’s not as great as you thought it was going to be. Maybe you are even starting to experience some post graduation anxiety.

Why is life after college so hard? 

Life after graduation is hard for college students for a lot of reasons! Below I dive into some of the most common struggles I have seen in many graduates that I have worked with. Some might resonate for you and others might not. Take what you need and leave the rest.

Shift in identity:

For people who went to college straight after high school, being a student has always been a large part of your identity. School, while difficult at times provides structure and a consistent routine that helps you feel grounded. Life after college can be especially challenging when that’s suddenly removed and you now have to adjust to a completely open schedule or a new job.

Pressure to find a job or start a career:

Many of the women I work with are perfectionists and have extremely high standards for themselves. Whether you identify as that or not, there can be a lot of pressure from family and society to get your first job straight after graduation. It can feel like even more pressure if you are hoping to land your dream job and start building a successful career. You might find yourself comparing to what you see your peers doing and wondering why it’s so easy for everyone else. I know it’s cliché and it’s been said a lot but try your best not to compare someones highlight reel. It’s not fair to you! Keep reading for my favorite way to stop playing the comparison game.

Women with curly blonde hair and glasses sitting on the floor propped up by a couch typing with laptop on her lap

Change in environment:

Maybe post grad you decided to move away from your college town and back home with your family. Or maybe you moved to a completely new area altogether. Change can be hard. Having to start over in a new city, building friendships or reconnecting with old friends can be really difficult.

Change in friendships:

If college was a good experience for you, you probably have close friendships that are going to change post grad. Whether you’re moving away or staying in the same town you went to college in, your relationships with your college friends will likely change. There’s something so special about getting to live near or with so many of your friends and experience life together. Now all of the sudden that’s likely changing. Maybe you’re navigating a new career, grad school or your friends have moved away. This will impact your friendships and that can feel really sad and scary.

How to cope with life after graduation?

Talk to your support system:

This could be your family, friends or colleagues. Anyone that makes you feel supported and you talk to on a regular basis. Leaning on friends who are also navigating life after college can be especially helpful. For recent college graduates, scheduling phone calls and dates with your friends can give you something to look forward to and help you feel a little less alone.

Practice self-care:

One of the benefits of life after college is a little bit more free time. Taking time to do things you love can have a huge impact on your mental health. Making this a priority is something you will never regret. I have a free self-care guide you can download when you sign up for my e-mail list if you want something to help you take your post grad self-care to the next level. I also wrote an amazing blog post all about how to have a Self-Care Summer you can read here.

Weekly planner sitting on marble counter with coffee mug and pen

Create Structure:

If you are taking a gap year before graduate school or still looking for jobs, you might find yourself with a lot of extra time on your hands. Getting intentional about how you use that time can be really beneficial. Maybe you want to try out time blocking or write a to-do list for the day. Choose a plan that sets you up for success and allows for flexibility and grace.

Honor and accept emotions:

You are likely going to be on an emotional roller coaster after graduating college. Between navigating job hunting, adult life, and missing friends this is such a vulnerable time for you. Maybe one day you’re feeling amazing and the next you’re struggling to get out of bed. Create space to feel whatever it is that is coming up for you, and if all else fails remember that whatever it is you are feeling is temporary. If you are really struggling, it can be helpful to reach out to a therapist or your support system for help.

Say no to comparison:

One thing I almost always see working with recent college graduates, is a ton of comparison. If you notice yourself starting to compare yourself to your peers who also graduated college, take a couple deep breaths and remind yourself that you are exactly where you need to be. Take some time to make a list of things that you are proud of yourself for. If you still notice yourself getting caught up in the comparison trap and notice that social media can be a trigger, consider taking time off until you’re feeling more grounded.

Talk to a therapist:

Talking to a therapist while navigating life after graduation can be such a beautiful way to support yourself. Graduating college and being thrust into adult life is probably one of the biggest life transitions you have ever faced. Going through a major transition like this with the help of a neutral person that you like and trust can have such a positive impact on your mental health.

Arielle Pinkston sitting on a counter smiling and holding a mug

Thanks for reading my blog post on life after college!

As a holistic therapist to college and millennial women I understand how difficult life after college can be. Adjusting to life after you graduate college can be a challenging time. I hope that you feel validated in some of the emotions you have been experiencing and learned a couple strategies to better support yourself. If you live in California and are wanting some extra support, you can learn more about me and my approach or feel free to reach out and schedule a consultation today.

Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as legal, financial, or medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional advice of your own attorney, accountant, physician, or financial advisor. Always check with your own physician, attorney, financial advisor, accountant, or other business or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.

That's So Well Therapist Arielle

It's me, Arielle!

Holistic Therapist, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Yoga Instructor in Elk Grove, California.

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