What to expect after graduation

Dealing with the lulls of sudden free time.

Kei-Lynn Wheaton , Staff Writer

Biola graduates are just two weeks away from walking across the stage to accept what has been years in the making. Years of hard work reach a pinnacle that ends in less than a minute—the  graduate leaves his seat and walks up the stairs, shakes the hand of the president , takes a degree and walks off the stage. How strange that so many years of work amount to a short stroll. 

After the ceremony, young people are surrounded by endless free time which was usually spent studying. Even those who begin working can find themselves at a loss without the structure, friend groups, and clubs that had shaped their lives for so long. Some graduates might even find themselves unable to get motivated for simple things such as eating or getting out of bed—which can lead to depression and overall sadness for the new graduate. 

WHAT IS POST-GRADUATE DEPRESSION

Psychologist Juli Fraga explained that depression sets in after commencement.

“If a student’s college experience is mostly positive, college provides a cocoon of sorts: a community of friends, teachers and mentors who are mostly readily available to offer support or advice. Graduating symbolizes a leap into ‘adult’ life, which is a huge transition.” Fraga said, “Post-grad depression is under-reported because graduation is like motherhood: culturally seen as a seemingly joyful time, which makes it even more shameful for someone to admit that it’s not.” 

The student is transitioning from being a part of a tight knit community who support one another to essentially being on their own. This can be quite traumatic, especially for undergraduate students. The graduate might see their college friends on social media and think they have it together and are getting great jobs while they feel stagnant. 

HOW TO DEAL WITH POST-GRADUATE DEPRESSION

The Psych Associates of Maryland gives some helpful tips on dealing with depression post-graduation. These tips include exercise and meditation as well as seeking professional help from a doctor. But there are ways that the student can set themselves up for a smoother transition after graduation. This might take a little preparation, but is worth it to ensure that the depression does not completely take over. 

Knowing you are not alone can be a big help in fighting that sense of loneliness. Do not compare yourself to someone who you think is doing better than you. Take advantage of alumni benefits and talk with the career center on campus to prepare for the future. Lastly, confide in someone you trust. Talk with your friends and family about loneliness or sense of emptiness. Finding a supportive community is validating and can give you a fresh perspective as you move forward.

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