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Dealing with Post-College Graduation Stress and Anxiety

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Article by Rheyanne Weaver

You’ve focused so long on just passing all your classes and the excitement of graduation, but now you’re a college graduate and in the “real world.” What do you do with the stress and anxiety that comes along with an uncertain situation, if you haven’t already snagged a job?

Andy Hogg, a psychologist in private practice in Flagstaff, Ariz., said it’s normal for recent college graduates to feel stressed and anxious.

“It’s a major life transition, and often people have postponed other … life events like marriage until after they graduate from college,” Hogg said. “So frequently graduation is about a job search, change in relationships, change in residence, everything changes.”

For many, graduation is still an exciting time full of achievement and exhilaration. Many graduates will feel fulfilled by their newfound independence. But for those who aren’t as lucky in the job market, there are a few things they can do to eliminate some of the stress and anxiety.

“One of the first things to do is to plan after graduation,” Hogg said. “Many college students simply think about graduating and then they’re going to think about their future life, when they really need to start making transition plans.”

He suggests applying to jobs before graduation, and the best-case scenario is that an internship in college ends up as a full-time job after graduation. For graduates who didn’t think ahead, it’s important to know they’re not alone.

“Probably the most important thing is just to normalize it,” Hogg said. “Feeling stressed during any life transition is completely normal.”

He also said when recent graduates are applying for a job, they should “evaluate and articulate their strengths, and for lots of people that’s uncomfortable.”

Recent graduates need to think of a plan, which is probably the best way to counteract questions from family and friends, like “What are you doing after graduation?”

“The process of searching for a good job often takes three to six months,” Hogg said. “Many times people haven’t thought about it until after they are not in school, unemployed, and then they start coming up with a job search strategy.”

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