Let's Talk About It: Graduation and Dealing with the Future

“Forget Disneyland, let’s go to Denmark, I hear they give out money for college there. Talk about the happiest place on earth”.

“You’ll totally get hired before me. At least you can do math”.

“I’m cute. I still have a chance at getting adopted by a celebrity”.

 It’s all I seem to do lately. I can’t help it. I’m in my third year at UCR and everything around me seems to be screaming “GRADSCHOOL”, “DEBT” and “YOU’LL NEVER FIND A JOB!”  If you’re an upperclassman, you know what I’m talking about. The future is slowly creeping up behind us and there’s nowhere to run. Let’s talk about it.

I know lots of people, like Chloe, have a passionate hatred for this topic of conversation. Some people nearly stick their fingers in their ears and sing “I can’t hear you!” when I start ranting about job interviews and loan interest. Others just sit there and smirk at me with that “Lol. You’re so unprepared”, look on their face. Everyone reacts differently to the thought of life after undergrad.  In my few years at UCR, I’ve discovered that there are at least three types of upperclassmen:

1. The “Yolo” Upperclassman

These are the people who change their majors five times a year and decide to backpack through Europe for six months. They are the ones who aren’t worried about the future because they know eventually everything will work out. Their “Que Sera Sera” attitudes are super attractive and give them a satisfying peace of mind. How they attain this precious state of nirvana, I will never know. 

2. The “I Can’t Move Back in with My Parents” Upperclassmen

These are the upperclassmen who are currently stressing the f*#% out. These are the perfectionists, the worry warts, the ones who read the news and know all about the job market for the class of 2014 and 2015. These are the students who dread the thought of moving back home. They’re anticipating all the negatives that come with graduating, and can’t concentrate on anything else. Trust me, I’m one of them.

3. The “I Got This” Upperclassmen

This is a rare, rare species.  You may find them in the jungles of Honor’s Societies or blending in with the faculty and staff. These are the upperclassmen who have it together. They’re the students who work five jobs on campus, two off and have an internship at NASA all in one quarter. They’re the students who are graduating a quarter early, or have their Career Counselor on speed dial. They'll be the ones running the world. 

As a certified “I Can’t Move Back in with My Parents” upperclassman, I’m relentlessly searching the web for companies that are hiring or will be hiring, looking at apartments for after graduation, and constantly coming up with plan Bs, Cs and Ds. I'm also trying not to hate all the people that either know exactly what they're doing or aren't really worried about it. Hating is never a good look. 

 When I figure this whole future thing out, I’ll be sure to let you know. Until then, here are a few things everyone should remember when dealing with an upperclassman or graduating senior:

1. Let them vent.

I know, but it’s the least you can do. Be that friend they can come to when they're super stressed about personal statements and letters of recommendation. Most people need to talk out their problems in order to address them in the best way possible. Remember, this is a really scary stage in their lives! Sometimes they just need a friend to stand there and nod, and that’s totally okay.

2. Don’t remind them about the job market.

Trust me, they know. If they're not complaining about it, it's definitely in the back of their minds. The reality of the job-to-graduate ratio is tragic enough to think about. Just don't. 

3. Encourage them.

If your friend is seriously stressing and it’s becoming obsessive, try to get them out of their head. Invite them out for a night on the town or treat them to a fun day of play. Do something that gets them to appreciate what’s happening in the moment so they can get their mind off the future.

Whether you know exactly what the future holds or you have no relevant clue, just remember the only thing you truly have is here and now. I know, I know. That sounds like something you'd pin on your "Words to Live By" board on Pinterest, but it’s true. You will never be Raven Baxter, so why try. (If you don't know who that is, shame on you. Educate yourself.) Worrying about it won't make it come or go any faster, so try to chill out and busy yourself by doing things that will benefit you in the long run. Prepare for the future as best you can, and enjoy college while you still have the chance.  

Good talk.

Until next time!