Student Perspective on Graduation: What’s Next?

This year, a common question started to invade everyday conversations with family and friends: “What are your plans after graduation?” While it is an innocent question and meant to spark feelings of excitement and opportunity to boast about travel plans and job prospects, it also sends a shock wave of nervousness. The truth is…we don’t really know.

Yes, many of us are excited to graduate but we are also scared because we’ve been students our entire lives. Many of us take pride in being good students and that title has played a large role in how we’ve shaped our identities and self-concept. Most of us haven’t had to delve right into the “real world” and that idea can be scary as it will likely have a large impact in shaping the rest of our lives. Parents might not always know how to help their child through the transition from college to career, but the most important idea to remember is that the transition is difficult for us too.

Supporting seniors as they approach post-graduation life can be tricky, but it helps to understand that while many plans are presented as final, this next chapter is unknown. Our goals and interests are constantly changing as we gain new experiences and perspectives. We may have plans and ideas for our next steps but the big connections we are about to make are completely unpredictable.

A family friend told us that “It’s okay to not have everything figured out right now.” He explained it by referencing life as a tape measure. If you look at a tape measure and mark out 100 inches, we are close to the first 25. He on the other hand, is closer to the end. This story made us realize that it’s okay to not have definite plans right now because we have a long way until the end of the tape measure. Whether it’s through a metaphor about life or just listening and giving gentle reassurances, support and understanding right now is what matters.

Emily Oe is a health studies major minoring in biology. After graduation, Emily will be applying to medical schools.

Dale Peterson is double majoring in accounting and finance. Dale will intern with Piper Jaffrey this summer, then move to Arizona.

Dale and Emily met their freshman year in a UF 100 climate change course. Both from Idaho, they quickly realized that they had a lot of commonalities and became quick friends and eventually roommates.