Are we ever ready?

Planning for life after college can be a tricky task.

Meghan O'Connor


As college students, we are always thinking of the next step and how we will make that inevitable switch from our role as students to professionals. Although we often dream of the day that we leave this campus behind us, are any of us ever really ready to be spit out into the job market full of fresh faces just like ours? 

With finals week just around the corner, many students are finalizing summer plans and preparing for fall semester. Others are preparing for their walk across the stage, diploma in hand.

Some graduates have had a job offer since last semester, while others are frantically trying to solidify some semblance of an income so as to avoid having to move back in with their parents. Graduation is a much-anticipated time, but also one that brings anxiety and second-guessing. Questions pop up regarding what the last four years have prepared you for, or wondering if you were involved enough to make you stand out from other jobseekers.

I fear that the moment I am no longer a student I will lose all direction entirely. When graduating from high school,  enrolling in a four-year program at a university was just the next step for me — as I’m sure it was for many. There was never a doubt in my mind as to what I would do after finishing high school.

But graduating from college requires a lot more  consideration. Some students head off to further their education in a graduate program, others will move to a new part of the country and try to nail a job down there; maybe you will even backpack through Europe with your best friend. So much is left to be decided, and after four years of stress, it seems that the stress only multiplies.

This past weekend I was in Cleveland helping my older sister  find an apartment. She is enrolled in a graduate program at Case Western Reserve University that will start at the beginning of July. As we traveled from one apartment showing to the next, it became exceedingly obvious  how nervous she is to be moving away from home. After growing up, studying and residing in the Twin Cities since we were young kids, this is the area that we know and will always call home. But how do you just pick up your life, move to a new state and start over?

All of this led me to become very anxious about my  next step and whether I am ready to move away, or even move on.

Throughout my three years at college I have felt  very prepared in terms of academics and my future as a working professional. But one thing that nobody can be prepared for is the emotionally taxing reality of moving past college.

Graduation provides a time for people to reflect on what exactly it is  they want to do. Don’t  jump into something because it is what your parents want for you or because you feel that it is the “right thing to do.” Do what feels right for you.

We have the rest of our lives to be working professionals, so taking a couple years off or even just a summer away to give you a break sounds like a mighty fine idea to me.

I know my sister will do great things throughout the next five years, and I have confidence that all of us will figure out what is right for us. Just don’t rush it. My sister graduated from college four years ago and  has only recently  figured out that she wants to earn a doctorate. It’s more important to figure out what is right rather than what is right now.