College Graduation Fear—7 Ways to Know You’re Ready

College Graduation Fears

We have had the pleasure of having several college girls intern with us at Grit and Grace Life and had the pleasure of working with them the year they graduated. Shortly after their college career came to a close, we had a team meeting which they attended. A few minutes into the meeting I was reminded of the seismic life shift they were facing. Watching their facial expressions as they discussed the future spoke every bit of their college graduation fear. The overwhelming, yet excited, panicked, exhilarating, and dreadful emotions they were feeling.

The experience made me want to take a few minutes and tell all college grads this—take heart! You can do this! Yes, it’s true what you have known in your academic life is not what is ahead of you. It’s time to enter the pay-my-rent, get-a-real-job world of adulting. But what you learned in college (and I’m not talking about what came in those astronomically expensive books), is everything you need to know to take on your first job.

1. You learned that goals change along the way.

Somewhere in your academic career, you realized that what you thought you wanted wasn’t what you actually wanted. The dreams you had as a little girl probably didn’t become the major you tackled in college. It’s kind of hard to major in princess. There’s a good chance you changed your mind in high school, then again when beginning college, and maybe one more time during your junior year. It’s no different in the workplace. Whatever job you find next will not be your forever job. It will be only one of an abundance of career paths and challenges you tackle in your work life. So, remove the pressure to find the perfect job. Just find the right one for this next step.

2. You learned it takes more than one application to discover where you want to go.

You didn’t just apply to one university. If you did and got in, good for you, but it doesn’t usually work that way. The same holds true in the job hunt; it takes time to research, build a resume, and turn in a whole bunch of job applications to find the next fit. Similar to when you looked at colleges, don’t limit yourself in your search; open up the gates. There may be something that’s just right for you in the marketplace that you have yet to discover.

It’s time to enter the pay-my-rent, get-a-real-job world of adulting. But—take heart college grad! You can do this!

3. You were surprised by which courses taught you the most.

You may have expected specific subjects within your major to be the most beneficial, yet they weren’t. Gaining wisdom that covers a lot of life probably came for something you randomly selected or seemed to be an odd requirement for your degree. You will discover this truth in the workplace as well. Be open to a position that may not be what you were thinking but can become a much-needed building block in your yet-to-discover, long-term goals.

4. You learned to share life with people who are not your family.

You lived with, studied with, and completed group projects with people you probably didn’t know before you entered the hallowed halls of higher education. This experience of great, cooperative relationships, as well as difficult ones, will enable you to navigate the world of co-workers successfully. The interaction in college humanity is not a lot different than that in the workplace.

5. You found a way to meet deadlines.

Whether it was turning in papers or finals that you studied for, you responded to the need to produce and then deliver time-sensitive requirements. This ability is much-needed and most rewarded within the workplace.

6. You learned the art of compromise and adjustment.

Whether with a roommate, professor or fellow student this was a season of learning to compromise as well as making adjustments. One of you was clean, the other not. One studied well at the crack of dawn the other a midnight learner. You tackled a group project, some members with similar strengths, others different and then there were those who didn’t hold up their end of the project. Professors whose styles of teaching and expectations were entirely different. It took compromise and adjusting how you handled each of these situations. Tools that will be even more honed in the years ahead.

7. You have come to understand that each part of your education is a season.

First elementary, then middle and high school, and now college—each was a segment of your education journey. Each one represented a change: in buildings, friendships, and even a change in expectations. Entering the workplace is just another season. Not only that, the first position you find will be a season as well. There will be others.

And you will find that once you move into the workplace, there comes the best education of all; self-education. The importance of learning for yourself and discovering passions beyond the pre-conceived structures of education is something that gets more prevalent with age. The little moments when you curl up to read a book, or those moments before sleep become the best times to develop yourself. As every season changes, your appreciation of education becomes a lifelong habit and it becomes yet another season. 

College grads, you will find a job! College graduation fear will be a thing in the distant past. You will discover your new rhythm! You will realize this is an exciting season of life! Yes, in many ways it will be different, but it will also bring you independence, and accomplishment, and reveal to you precisely what you’re made of. You got your degree, so now get the rest of your life.

Read what other writers have to say about entering the workforce, check out this podcast episode: How to Face the Impossible with Grit and Grace – 035

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