It’s that time of year. When third year university student everywhere start to panic. Because we have finished University. We have completed our dissertation, handed in our final essay and studied for our final exams. There is nothing more we can do. We are finally out in the real world. Let me tell you, it’s a bit scary! So today I want to speak about the post University blues. (Beware, this post will NOT contain as much psychological research content as usual).
As you can imagine University is a stressful time. There are assignments, presentations and exams. Plus, we have to look after ourselves, party hard, work for a living (if your loan doesn’t cover your living costs), pay bills and are also supposed to fill up our CV with very relevant work experience and skills. Basically, University is a place where we discover a lot about ourselves and try to survive on our own (often for the first time). So at the end of it, it can be a bit of a shock that suddenly we have to move back home (for a lot of people this is the only financially viable option), lose our freedom and independence and get a job. I’m not sure about you, but it doesn’t sound that fun!
As you can imagine, a lot of graduates start to feel really low after completing their degree. This is often called the post University blues. Students not only feel relieved, but also feel like they have no purpose, that the best years of your life are behind them and that they are all alone in the big wide world.
Just so you know… this is not true!
I’m going to give you third years, or those leaving uni some (hopefully) helpful tips on how to cope with leaving university and preparing for the rest of your life.
Number 1: Set yourself a goal/goals and prioritise
I think one of the most important ways to stop or prevent feeling the post university blues, it to set yourself goals. You have spent the last three/four years of your life working towards the goal of attaining your degree. It helps you structure your life: lectures, drinking, hangover, lectures, drinking, hangover… (not always in that order).
So by setting yourself goals, it can really help give you purpose. But remember to prioritise! It may be more important to you that you take time off work and travel than go straight into a job that you don’t actually enjoy. Having a goal in front of you means you can work towards it, even if it’s just to hand out your CV in town.
Number 2: Do something you have missed out on during University.
At University we often have very active social lives, and work very hard (especially in your final year). I think it’s really important to get a good balance of work and play. As all work and no play, makes someone very sad (or something, I can’t remember the saying, as my head has been filled with Psychology revision for far too long!) So do something you have missed doing!
For me, this has meant I have started reading again (for pleasure!), I have been drawing more (see left), I am planning to book my first driving lesson and have been playing a lot of polo (Yes, I know, I’m very middle class!) Interestingly, regular physical activity is associated with improved psychological well-being, including reduced stress, anxiety and depression (Warburton, Nicol & Bredin, 2006).
Basically, stay fit and do something you love. Getting back into a hobby or relaxing a lot can only be good for you!
Number 3: Talk to people!
If you’re struggling, talk to people. If you’re not struggling, talk to people! It’s not hard. Go up to a friend, family member or willing passer-by (don’t talk to anyone on public transport, that’s weird!), and talk to them. Ask them their plans, talk about yours, cry at them if you need to.
It’s only once you start talking to others that you might realise you want to do a similar thing to them. Maybe you didn’t realise they are doing a masters in something really interesting. Equally, they might be doing a job that sounds awful to you – if so, you know you don’t want to do that. At least you know more and are learning about what you might or might not want to do with the rest of your life (sobs quietly into a pillow).
Number 4: Set boundaries
For those of you moving back in with parents, this can be very useful. I know so many people who seem to run their household when they are home (cooking, cleaning, walking the dog, babysitting the sister etc). And equally I know a lot of people who do fuck all at home. To those people I say, go do the damn washing up!
My point is, if you are going home talk to your parents about what is expected of you. Are you expected to pay rent? To cook every day? To become the maid? Basically, talk to the people you live with, make sure everyone is happy with what is expected of them. Make sure no one is not pulling their weight, and no one is doing the brunt of the work either.
Number 5: Remember you can do anything
This is the most important tip…. Remember you can do anything! You are free from education! You can shoot for the stars!
You can do anything with your life. Don’t be scared by this. It’s a challenge. People believe in you. You can do it!
Congratulations class of 2016!
Post university blues
Health benefits of physical activity