I graduated! But does my diploma come with a job?

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Preparing for graduation before senior year seems absurd because four years sounds like light years away, but in reality it is closer than you think. With the economic debt jobs are becoming increasingly harder to find.

Many college students graduate unsure of what they are going to do with themselves because they did not establish a plan ahead of time.  Lack of a plan can lead to lingering debt from student loans, living in your parent’s basement for the next 10 years or having lots of roommates so you can afford a place to live. These situations can lead to stress which can be difficult for some to deal with. To avoid these outcomes it is important to be prepared, plan for your future and start early.

The great thing about thinking ahead of time is the many different options and paths you can choose. Some of them may include pursuing advanced degrees through continuing education, entering the workforce after college graduation, taking a gap year to maybe see the world or do some volunteering, joining the military, or just doing internships until the right position is found.

Another reason to get started early on your future plans is to provide time to change your mind and choose another major or area of interest in case you don’t like what you originally chose. Taking a variety of college classes is a great way to help guide those who aren’t sure what major they want. There are so many options to choose from but you need to be motivated and take advantage of them, especially while you’re young.

Once you pick a path it is important to pick the best way to approach your goal.  For instance, if you want a permanent job after college, internships are great for networking and building connections with different businesses.

LinkedIn is a great social network tool to keep in touch with business contacts and find out about whose hiring and for what positions. Some of the best jobs are found by networking instead of through the classified ads in newspapers.  If you decide you want to join the military, it might be useful to talk to people currently in the military.  Maybe your college has ROTC that could give you some insight.  Joining the military can provide a great career but it is different from other paths and it may not be the right one for everyone.

If a gap year seems like the right choice, you still need to plan. You need to think about what you want to accomplish, where do you live and is it possible to use the experience to ultimately get a permanent job. And if you decide to pursue additional education, you need to think about what you want to study.

Although you have experience applying for college, applying to school for advance degrees usually requires different testing and application processes. You will need to know what you want to study, what tests are required to be accepted, and what schools you want to consider.  It is basically like your high school senior year all over again, just more advanced! Whatever path you choose you should think carefully – You shouldn’t make permanent decisions based on temporary thoughts.

Any kind of planning and preparation can be stressful so it is also important to stay healthy and save room for some leisure time. Stress in college can be a huge problem because it can cause depression or other cognitive downfalls. Sobefore making any huge decision you should step back and take a breath.  Staying healthy throughout college is key to your success while in college and also important for long term success. Many students have recently become more and more stressed especially do to the economic standings.

One of the easiest ways to relieve stress is through relaxation, like yoga, meditation or any exercise that makes you feel good. Going out for a quick 20 minute run, swimming some laps in the pool, or lifting weights can help a lot when it comes to de-stressing prior to an exam or an important job interview. And if there isn’t enough time for a vigorous workout, even taking a couple minutes to deep breathe or lie down can be a positive relaxing event. Working hard is important but keeping your mind and body healthy should also be at the top of your list.

It can be intimidating and scary to think about the future when you just came out of the simple high school life and want to have some fun college years. But if you take time each year of college to plan, it won’t be so overwhelming when you have to carry out the plan. Taking the time to look at the various options that fit your interests the best and talking to people who can help advise you will make you prepared for the future.

Imagine how relieved and more relaxed you will feel once the moment finally comes to grab that college diploma.  All of your studying and time planning will be well worth the preparation.        Too many high school freshman go into college expecting to encounter what they see on TV shows or movies. What those shows don’t show is the hard work and planning that is necessary to make college kids successful. Planning early and being prepared for the future is the best thing students can do for themselves.

 

Email:kevans2@radford.edu