Dealing with graduation anxiety

Katherine Hogan

To be honest, when I was told I had to write this column, I was not at all sure what to write. The fact that I could write anything actually didn’t help me – the more options I have, the harder it is for me to choose.

However, I decided that I would write about what has been looming largest in my thoughts most recently – graduation (cue silent screaming). As a senior, graduation has been a topic of conversation with friends, family, professors and my dentist since the fall. Now, the closer we seem to get the more anxious I start to feel.

Similar to when you are a first-year who is undecided with what you are majoring in, it can be very frustrating to be a senior and not have your whole life suddenly figured out. As soon as they know that I am in my final year of college, it seems that everyone expects an answer to the question, “What are your plans after college?”

But honestly, the person who expects an answer to that question the most is definitely myself.

I never saw myself as someone struggling to define my career path, but I probably shouldn’t be surprised. When picking a college and eventually a major, I was overwhelmed by all the options and took time to narrow down my options. Now as a senior looking forward to graduation, the options are endless. While that is incredibly exciting, it also threatens to overwhelm me again.

Personally, I find it hard not to give in to anxiety when I think about how in three months, I will be done with school: the only thing I have ever known.

When you think about it, we have been in school since we were three years old; I have yet to find that “real world job” that I desire and am still not quite sure of my career aspirations.

While I remind myself that there is plenty of time left to find a job and find myself, I can’t help but compare myself to those who seem to have their lives so together and already know what they are going to do next.

But this is not the time to give in to anxiety.

While three months seems short, there is still plenty of time to do research. In reality, I am the one who is pressuring myself most to find a job before graduation.

Thankfully, I am pretty sure my dad will let me move back in after graduation if I promise to feed the dog, and while I have heard many stories of seniors having job offers before they even graduate, I have also heard stories of how it takes a while after graduation to find that first “real job.”

What I think I need to focus on more in this last semester at Augustana is actually savoring being here instead of spending three months suffering from non-stop graduation anxiety.

After all, I will never get the chance to be a senior here again. I want to spend all the time I can (when I am not doing homework for my SI, that is) relishing the time I have with the friends I have made here.

I want to go bingo with them, play card games with them and spend hours talking with them.

For those who may still feel that graduation is a long way off as a first-year, sophomore or junior, don’t worry. You have plenty of time and resources to figure yourself out.

Even if you end up being the Undecided Senior, I think that’s okay too, and I hope that this can take some of the graduation anxiety away for other students as well.