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For many college students, the next few months are going to be a whirlwind of emotions and to-do lists. Graduation, the next milestone in life, is in May at many colleges and universities. Like other milestones in life, graduation can bring with it a lot of stress.
Chris McLean, a psychologist and assistant director and career program manager for Counseling and Psychological Services at UC Berkeley, said there are a lot of students stressed at this time of year figuring out how to transition and what they want to do after graduation.
The economy could still be playing a part in that stress as well.
“There’s a lot of pressure for college students to feel like they should know exactly what they will be doing the moment they set foot on campus, that they’re investing a lot in their education and that they feel a responsibility to themselves or their families to get a good-paying job or get set up for a professional career,” McLean said.
He encourages students to explore different career and graduate school options and to utilize campus resources preparing students for graduation and a future career. Yet many students might not have realized all the resources available to them and are now stressing out right become the looming May graduation.
“Take time to assess what’s important to you,” McLean suggested, including skills, interests and values. “Take time to learn about or to research different careers so that you are making informed decisions about things that might be a good fit for the skills and interests or values that you hold dear.”
Stress and anxiety are normal in these situations, but it’s healthier not to dwell on the things that cause more stress and anxiety.
“It’s important to think about what are some of the successes that you’ve already achieved and to kind of believe in yourself and what you have to offer a graduate school or prospective employer,” McLean said.
“A lot of times there’s all-or-nothing thinking or catastrophizing,” he said.
This includes thinking that you’re never going to get a job or nothing will work out.