U-M Counseling and Psychological Services

Change Ahead

Graduation is both an exciting and stressful time for any student. It involves saying goodbye to a way of life and a familiar place.   Graduation may also be saying hello to new exciting possibilities, moving to a new location, new friends, or a challenging graduate/professional program. It might be helpful to view this significant transition as an earned rite of passage into a new phase of adulthood. 

As a rite of passage one phase involves preparing for the transition. There is a planning process that involves applying and interviewing for a job, applying for graduate school and taking necessary entrance exams, finding housing, etc. You may also have been making plans to spend the summer looking for a job, taking time off to get ready to start a new job and your career, or traveling before the actual transition from college life to the “real world” occurs.

It is also possible that the planning phase may include discussions with your parents about the necessity to move home as you continue to look for a professional job, or prepare for graduate school, or try to find interim work until a job in your chosen career becomes available. It will be very important to have open conversations together about what moving back home for a possible indefinite period of time will mean to everyone involved prior to actually moving home after graduating.

Another part of the transition process that is also important is creating plenty of time and space to pay attention to the many feelings that are likely to emerge---sadness, excitement, anxiety, fear, pride, etc. Too often you might tend to prepare in terms of your thinking and planning and underestimate the impact of leaving people and places that you have grown accustomed to over the past few years.

You may also find it helpful to create certain “rituals” for saying goodbye to both people and places. There are many ways to accomplish this, but some may include: attending your graduation ceremony; planning a family graduation party or dinner; making time to have a meal or party with those people who have been important to you; telling a professor or other mentor how much you appreciate them; writing in a journal about the thoughts and feeling you are having about leaving U of M and going to a new place; talking with friends, etc. The suggestion here is to do something that might help with the process and will pave the way to tackling whatever challenges are ahead.

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