I am sure you do not need the reminder that the sand in your college journey hourglass is slowly but surely draining. I need not to be the bearer of bad news, but perhaps these words can quell your worries, diminish your fears, or give you some peace of mind as you approach life post college graduation.
I will not sit here and preach that "I have been in your shoes!" or that I have all the answers because I simply do not. What I do have is admiration in my smile and empathy in my heart as you begin to navigate your next steps. Hopefully, this advice is something that you can carry with you in the immediate moments after you cross that stage and throw your hands up in the air and beyond.
1. Take the long way home.
There is something sitting heavily in the pit of your stomach, reminding you that these views are only yours for so much longer. Take the long way home, I beg of you. The images you see will become your nostalgia. They will become your fondest memories of what you knew your campus to be. You will play your four years back like a movie reel and the corners of your mouth will turn upwards as you reminisce in all that this institution has made you be.
2. Revel in spontaneity.
You do not need me to flash a countdown clock in your direction to understand that you are fighting for limited days, hours, and minutes. All of those things that you had placed on your college bucket list? It is time to go check them off. Even so, some days you do not need a plan. You just need the one friend who rallies you all together so you can make up your fun along the way.
3. Friends outweigh your schoolwork right now.
I am by no means telling you to fail your senior year spring semester classes. Do not do that. However, your time with your people is precious. Grab that lunch, go for a walk, drop off your rent check with a car full of pals, take grocery trips together, walk into one another's apartments unannounced, embrace those final weekends - do all of the above. Your proximity to one another may never be this close again, but the bonds of friendship you have formed can transcend any amount of miles or span any amount of time.
4. Take the leap of faith and apply for the job you don't think you'll get.
You never know if you never try. Take your best swing and see what happens. Sure, you may strikeout, but you never know if you send that opportunity flying over the fence. You'd rather be able to say "I tried" than be sitting on the other side of almost.
5. Strengthen your network, and never burn a bridge.
Friends, professors, former bosses, whoever. Now is your time to mold a complete contact list for future communication. These will be the people you will reach out to over the course of your life in an amalgamation of contexts. From communicating about professional development to picking up right where you left off with your favorite people, these are opportunities to use your alumni status and your institution pride to grow in more ways you could ever imagine. Whatever you do, never burn a bridge. You simply never know who you'll need to get in touch with.
6. Wear your gratitude on your sleeve.
By the end of your college journey, you will have more thanks than you know what to do with. Do not be afraid to voice this, even if you may feel it sounds silly or redundant. You have invested your time and energy in an institution for four years, and in turn, this institution has planted its roots in you, inspiring you to grow into the best person you could be. Let others know how grateful you are for their guidance.
Thank your parents or caregivers for the opportunity to attend college. Thank your organizations for providing you with means to spend your extra time. Thank your teammates for pushing your strength to the utmost potential. Thank your sorority sisters/fraternity brothers for revealing values that are most important to you. Thank your co-workers and boss at your part-time job for providing you with essential skills and the opportunity to put some cash in your pocket.
Thank the professors who have taught you invaluable lessons inside and outside the classroom. Thank the classmates you have had intellectual conversations with. Thank your friends for being a part of every single one of your favorite memories. Thank yourself for the choice you made to make the most of every moment of your four years.
7. Trust the process.
Ambiguity is never a face value type of thing; it can be scary, exciting, nerve-racking, thought-provoking, you name it. At the end of the day, it will be understood if and when you find out that you cannot control every piece of your journey. You may have your heart set on one trail, but life will surprise you.
You will be diverted one too many times; embrace these moments as opportunities to explore, and discover so much more about the world and yourself. There is no cookie-cutter answer to how you should shape your life post-grad. So, trust the process, and gear up for all that life may throw you.
As aforementioned, I do not have all the answers. I wish I could send you along your merry way with a guidebook for to how to tackle life after you cross the stage, but I would not do each of your journeys justice. Take these seven tidbits of advice, and put them in your back pocket. You never know when you may need them.