Be Happy, Feel Beautiful
Whether you are waiting for your final grades before graduation, or whether you still have one or two semesters to go before that walk across the stage, few college students are immune to the looming fear of life after school. Sure, some lay down plans and secure jobs months in advance, transitioning smoothly from a college student to a grownup. For a majority of us, however, the future is more or less uncertain. But although uncertainty can be scary, there’s no need to panic. Follow these tips as your school days wind down, and hopefully you’ll be able to graduate with a bit less stress.
Pick a Star, Follow It
It’s okay if you’re not absolutely sure what you want to be when you grow up, even if your childhood days are long past. But now is a great time to give it some serious thought. Chances are you have some idea already: find out what opportunities are available for your major. Talk to professors and alumni, reach out to people in your prospective field.
Don’t be afraid to dream outrageously. Study the employment and salary statistics, but also ask yourself: where does your heart want to go? What’s the best way to get there? It’s hard to find your destination if you don’t know what you’re looking for. So release a wish out there into the universe and go pursue it.
Make Yourself Marketable
Before graduating, consider participating in activities that you will be proud to add to your resume. Internships, volunteering opportunities, and extracurricular activities will help you gain an edge over the other applicants, particularly if you align them toward your career of choice — and chances are, you’ll have a lot of fun while you’re at it. Use your time as a student well, so that you have something to brag about to employers. Write for the college paper or other media outlets. Get your voice heard and your name out there.
Think Outside the Box
It’s not too late to gain valuable experience even if you are graduating mid-semester. Though it may be too late for for-credit internships or other college-specific activities, there are multiple opportunities to better yourself post-college: learn a new language, hone your skills through free online materials, attend workshops, write articles. Knowing you’ve spent your college days well will give you confidence as you enter the job market.
Deadlines can be a great motivator, but don’t be lulled into false security even if graduation feels far ahead in the future. Waiting until the last minute to begin your job search or research for grad programs tends to result in a panicked scramble. To minimize stress while maximizing your opportunities, start looking at your options well in advance. Talk to people, let them know you will be on the market for a job soon. Follow companies that interest you on Twitter and Facebook. Take time to find that perfect grad school or volunteering program.
Carve Your Own Path
Entrepreneurship is tempting in these times of economic crises, and many have opted for self-employment after being laid off. Although not every cupcake bakery or graphic design studio can be bound for success, self-employment or entrepreneurship is a real possibility for the adventurous type. If you are brimming with innovative ideas, there are funding opportunities and awards available through organizations in your area or national ones like Gen Y Capital Partners.
If neither entrepreneurship nor traditional employment is your thing, the world is full of opportunities to shape your life in the direction you want. Maybe you’d like to see the world? Consider teaching English abroad. For the hardcore traveler, becoming a global nomad is an option. These restless souls spend their lives traveling, never settling down in one location for too long. Although a life of travel sounds expensive, it doesn’t have to be. Follow advice from nomads like Tynan, Chris Guillebeau, and Matt Kepnes to uncover the secrets of a life on the road.
There are few emotions more useless than worry. This may be hard to keep in mind when your wallet is growing spider webs and the best source of food is your mom’s fridge, but even in those situations, worrying doesn’t help. Focus your energy toward positive emotions instead, channeling it into action instead of stagnant thoughts. If you’ve done all you can to make sure your future is a bright one, there’s no need to worry. If your thoughts are stuck on a negative path, get physical: run, go to the gym, do some yoga – whatever gets your body moving. Think about the exciting prospects of the future instead of the negatives. Things have a tendency of working out.
As graduation nears, ditch your fears and get excited instead! The world is open to you, and with a head full of new knowledge and a heart full of memories, you can make the most of it. The economy may not be the best, but there are more options than ever for those looking to pursue their dreams. You have accomplished much, and soon you’ll have that diploma in your hand. Accept it with pride, joy and hope – and graduate stress-free.