Facing life after university

Reading Week was implemented at Wilfrid Laurier University for students to catch up on their course material mid-way through the semester. While some students may actually study or work on assignments, many come back to their old homes to relive their old style of living.

You hang out with family and childhood friends and you become reminded of all of your forgotten experiences pre-university.

This winter Reading Week was my last and during the week I planned on reliving my forgotten memories before moving back after graduation.

I realized over the week that there aren’t many resources to explain how to move back home once you’ve graduated.

This led to me to do some research (rather than working on actual research for my assignment) and to my surprise, there were many people who had felt this once they graduated from post-secondary.

Publications from the Globe and Mail, The Guardian and The Independent have written columns and articles on how students have felt a sense of depression once they move back home. Students often lack motivation to find work and they feel confused about what to do with their new-found “freedom.”

Some students may use this time to travel or to explore new hobbies. Most students may even go on to do their Master’s or attend a graduate program.

A vast majority of students, unfortunately, do not have that option — they will be busy paying off their student debt and will have to patiently wait to fully experience their newfound freedom.

Those people will see photos their fellow graduates travelling across Europe or working in a new country, resulting in a feeling of FOMO: fear of missing out.

Unfortunately, one of the worst realizations after graduation is a loss of community.

Once you separate yourself from that community, you learn to realize that you may have to experience this new stage of your life independently.

So while the depression you may experience after university may very well in fact be a common thing among recent graduates, it doesn’t mean you have to settle with it.

According to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the first step is to communicate with friends, family members or anyone you feel comfortable talking to.

If this feeling worsens over time, the organization recommends you seek professional help.

All-in-all, becoming a recent graduate can be more complex than university. You spend a number of years in what can be described as a bubble, which later bursts.

But guess what? That’s totally okay.

It’s okay not to have a plan right after university. It’s okay to take time off to figure out what you want to accomplish in your career and it’s definitely okay to experience failure and rejection when looking for jobs.

The Globe and Mail contributor Janina Enrile wrote that she treated post-university life similar to a break-up.

She experienced new hobbies and learned to place more value on time spent with family and friends.

However, she and other writers on this topic have stressed the need for universities to do more to recognize how mental health can play a significant role in post-university life.

Post-secondary institutes, as well as professors, staff and students alike, should help each other out once we start preparing to leave our “bubble.”

These times more than ever, we should build a new sense of community and gain a sense of comfort  in knowing there’s more to come once we throw those convocation caps in the air.

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