You've Graduated From College. Now What?18 April 2011 / By Truity Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on April 18, 2011
If you're a traditional college student, you've been in school for sixteen years straight. If you're a non-traditional student, you've been attending college for four years. In either case, earning your Bachelor's degree has been your goal. And you've graduated from college. Now what? Perhaps the degree will be your first step into the career of your dreams, or perhaps it's part of your ticket to graduate school. It might be the case, however, that you're not sure. You might have majored in something you loved and enjoyed but aren't sure how it translates into a career, or given today's tight job market, you're undecided as to which way you should go. Graduation is a milestone. You've earned your accolades. And now, it's time to prepare for change, in whatever form it takes.
The Job Search
Many new graduates opt for the job search. Your major might be one for which jobs are in great demand. You might not, however, be able to immediately find a job in your field. Another possibility is that your field of study while in college might not lend itself to easy job prospects. Your best bet, if you want to go into a job after college graduation, is to lay out your strategy: decide which jobs you want to apply for, whip your resume into shape, and learn everything you can about how to make yourself as attractive a prospect as possible to potential employers. If you haven't started networking yet, then begin. Networking can be a great source of leads into the career of your dreams. Introverted types will find networking and job-searching easier if they use a professionally-oriented social networking site like LinkedIn, while extroverted types may find it easier to make their connections offline.
Depending on your major while in college, you might want to go to graduate school after earning your Bachelor's degree. In most scientific fields, for example, a Ph.D. is preferred, and if you want to enter the fields of law or medicine, you'll need to consider law schools or medical schools. No matter what post-graduate school you're setting your sights on, you'll need to take an examination to qualify for entry. If you want to go to graduate school, you should take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Aspiring lawyers will need to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). If you want to practice medicine, you'll need to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Apply widely to schools you're interested in so that hopefully, you'll be able to take your choice.
Hopefully, you've learned about money management while in college, but if not, after graduation, you'll take a crash course. You'll be looking at repaying student loans and perhaps credit card debt. While you are searching for entry onto the career path of your dreams, you might have to take a job just to pay the bills. If you're going to graduate school, you'll want to investigate possible sources of financial aid such as an internship. Whichever way you go after graduation, careful budgeting will be essential. Make sure you have funds for your necessities – rent, food, utilities, clothing – clearly earmarked, as well as funds that need to go to paying off your debts. Whatever you have left, you can use for fun, but keep in mind that it's a good idea to save your money or invest it for your future.
To Move or Not to Move?
Another big question facing you at graduation will be, “To move or not to move?” Of course, you'll be moving out of your college dorm or university apartment, but are you ready, financially, to get your own apartment? Some graduates move back in with Mom and Dad for a while. Another option is to rent an apartment with friends and split the cost.
Depending on what path you select post-graduation – a job or graduate school – you might possibly be moving quite some distance away from your undergraduate alma mater. If you move to a new city or town, you'll need to familiarize yourself with the basics: where to find grocery stores, banks, transportation, gas stations and other things you'll need. Before you move, learn as much as you can about the area in which you'll be calling home.
Graduating from college is a big step. Congratulations, graduate! As you stand at the crossroads, wondering, “I've graduated from college. Now what?”, try to clearly see the possibilities, at least how they appear to you from where you currently stand, so that you can make the best decision for you at this time in your life.