After Graduation: 10 Fears Every College Student Has About the Real World

after graduation

The last year of college is the time to live up your last months with friends on campus — while also (attempting to) maintain your motivation to care about classes and figure out what to do with your life after graduation. Oh, there’s also the occasional breakdown about the fact that you won’t have your bestie with you forever, NBD.

The last year of college is when literally everyone you know (and even people you met two seconds ago) asks: “So what are you doing after graduation?” You fake a smile and answer with a hopefully-confident-sounding reply of possibilities that may or may not be true for your future.

Whether you have a solid plan or you’re just winging it, when graduation approaches, it can feel like everything is changing — where you live, what you do, who you are around — which is exciting… and scary! If you find yourself feeling terrified about the amount of unknowns in your future, you’re not alone. Here’s a list of fears every recent grad has after graduation, both big and small.

1. “What if I Don’t Graduate?”

I have spent years (and quite a bit of money) earning a diploma. I met with my advisor countless times and turned in all my graduation paperwork. All my boxes are checked. Except, what if they aren’t? What if I’m missing a credit somewhere or filed a form wrong and I actually can’t graduate this semester? This fear will linger in the back of my mind until I have my diploma firmly in-hand.

2. “What if I Don’t Find a Job?”

The fear of having to find a job in the “real world” after graduation ranges from being unsure about my major one minute, to realizing how many other graduates are competing for jobs against me the next.

If this somehow isn’t your biggest concern, I’m not sure what’s wrong with you — and I really don’t want to hear your perfect, dreamy success story of how you landed your dream job in the fall semester and haven’t worried about the future all year. (JK, please tell me all your secrets.)

3. “What if I Hate My Job?”

Officially #employed! Time to celebrate… and freak out about the next step. Working every day of the week from 9-5 is completely different than having class a few times a day, or even a few times a week. Not to mention learning how to navigate the professional world and meeting my new co-workers. Is it happy hour yet?

4. “What if I Don’t Get Into Grad School?”

Choosing grad school over an office job after graduation means facing the fear of a different type of rejection. The application process for grad school feels as tough as actually being in the program. It may sound like an exaggeration, but my literal blood, sweat, tears, and a huge lack of sleep went into that app, taking the GRE, and hitting those ridiculously early deadlines. Don’t mind me, just checking my email every five minutes. It’s fine. I’m fine.

5. “What if I Lose My Friends Forever?”

This is easily the saddest fear. Telling myself I will Facetime my friends and it’ll all be okay doesn’t help. The best way to handle this is probably to pour another glass of wine and call to say how much I love them and will miss them after graduation.

6. “Will I Make New Friends??”

Making friends in college is easy; the lifestyle basically promotes meeting people and I always have something going on. I don’t know what to do without my friends! Am I supposed to binge-watch episodes and commit to unrealistic exercise routines by myself? I’m not a fan of being alone, so not finding new friends after graduation may be the fear at the top of my list.

7. “WTF is a Budget?”

Ah, living is expensive! But I’ve got this — I’ll just figure out how to budget and I’ll make a cool, color-coded spreadsheet with everything super-organized and my new salary will cover all my expenses with shopping money to spare. Wait, rent in my new city is what? A dentist trip costs how much?

8. “What if I Fall in Love With a F*ckboy?”

In college, it’s as easy as dressing up and going out, then talking to/leaving with whoever I find most charming that night. It’s meeting cute boys while I wait in line for coffee at the library, snapping the hot guy from class, and chatting up Mr. Muscles at the campus gym. But in the real world, I have to just meet men out in the wild and trust they aren’t Dexter? Awesome.

9. “What if I Don’t Look the Part?”

Most of my outfits rely on pieces from my roommates. Leaving them after graduation means I’m down three closets (and I think they will notice if I try to move out with the majority of their clothing). So if you need me, I’ll be scanning Pinterest for blazers and Googling what “office casual” means.

10. “Now I Have to Pick Up the Phone to Make My Own Appointments???”

I’ve mostly avoided this by just using Student Health if anything was serious enough to need a professional. Now I actually have to locate a doctor’s office, call them, schedule something, and fill out a bunch of forms? I think I’ll just grab a band-aid, pop some ibuprofen, and hope for the best.

Follow Bri on Instagram: @bri_stuepfert

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