What Lies Ahead?

Alexa sitting outside of Wilson Hall.

This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Wellness Center. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @rowanuwellness on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Today Wellness Center intern Alexa Delgado, law & justice studies major, shares one aspect of health to benefit our community. 

Alexa sits behind a field of daffodils while holding one.

For many college students, graduation means uncertainty. Students leave a place of structure and clear-cut responsibilities to enter the “real world.” Adult responsibilities that once seemed so far away now appear left and right, reminding students their current reality is quickly changing. Feelings of uncertainty, stress, and anxiety, though confusing, are completely normal for graduating college students (Belle et al., 2022). Still, these feelings may cause negative thoughts and encourage negative coping mechanisms, so students must learn how to deal with these feelings as graduation approaches. 

First, students may wonder why they feel anxious or stressed about graduating. After all, graduation is what everyone looks forward to since the beginning of their college journey. Then, suddenly, the excitement for what lies ahead dims, leaving behind a bottomless pit of worry. Usually, this worry relates to finding a job (Belle et al., 2022). After years of study, the thought of not finding a well-paying job within one’s field is terrifying. 

“Was it all for nothing?” 

“Will I be a failure if I do not find a job?”

These are thoughts that can plague the minds of senior college students, making graduation seem like an absolute end instead of the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. However, more generally, students can simply feel overwhelmed by the sudden change in responsibilities, location, and relationships. 

Regardless of the reason for the anxiety and uncertainty, there are a few actions that those struggling can take to manage those feelings. It is always beneficial for students to share their feelings with those they trust, especially if they are fellow graduating students who may be experiencing similar emotions. However, sometimes it can be difficult to speak with others, especially if one thinks they are the only student stressed about graduating. In this situation, students need to remain grounded in the present instead of letting their worries about the future consume their lives. Students should spend time with friends, practice mindfulness, and channel their worries into activities that bring them peace and happiness. Though the future may seem scary, graduation is a milestone that marks the beginning of an individualized and self-paced journey. There is no wrong or right path to one’s future, and it is when students acknowledge this truth that the future does not seem so bleak.

Alexa sits on a rock art structure.

Belle, M. A., Antwi, C. O., Ntim, S. Y., Affum-Osei, E., & Ren, J. (2022). Am I Gonna Get a Job? Graduating Students’ Psychological Capital, Coping Styles, and Employment Anxiety. Journal of Career Development, 49(5), 1122–1136. https://doi.org/10.1177/08948453211020124

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Story by:
Alexa Delgado, Law & Justice Studies major

Edited by:
Jordyn Dauter, junior dance & elementary education double major