I am going to graduate in December. Crap. I am going to graduate in December! No, my dear readers, I don’t think you understand. I will graduate.
As great as this sounds on paper, these three words come with a gigantic tidal wave of uncertainty, change and risk. For my entire life, I have been on a nice little pre-planned roller coaster. My parents set me onto the tracks in kindergarten. Kindergarten rolled into elementary school. Elementary school begets junior high. Junior high begets high school. If you are good at high school, you go on to college. But the coaster ends at college. It ends by sending you flying headlong into an adulthood filled with questions.
You decide what you want to do with your life. No one tells you. The first concern normally is money. Where can you get a job? Will you have to move back in with your parents for a while? Will you have to pay off student loans? Do you want to go to graduate school? How will you pay for it? Do you want to be a poor hermit who travels from city to city? That’s also an option! Do you want to stay in the area? Can you stay in the area? Are you the type of person that needs to be near friends and family? Can you start from scratch and make all new friends? Will jobs let you do either? Will significant others factor in? How exactly will all this really work?
Questions upon questions are presented to you after graduation., and the only one who can answer them is you. On top of these questions are all the questions you still are answering for school. Exams hold just as much importance as they always did. It would be terrible to fail the semester before graduating. Senior projects are now a huge concern. All of these concerns, both new and old, just aren’t really fair. That’s why pre-graduate stress disorder is a very real problem.
To add to the trouble, the answers to these questions may be constantly changing. Your major may change. Your life goals may shift. They did for me. I originally came to college perfectly content with spending eight hours in front of a computer screen. After my high school experience, I was certain people sucked and that I didn’t want to work with them. Well, one internship in front of a computer for a 40 hour work week was enough to convince me that people were not so bad. Also, the social atmosphere of college was able to open me up more than my freshman counterpart. Now my plans include getting a MBA sometime in my future. I definitely didn’t see that one coming!
So, young ones, enjoy this time while it lasts. Enjoy the parties and the good classes. Tolerate the bad classes. Get involved on campus. But also try to answer some of the big post-graduation questions early. Where do you want to go with your life once the roller coaster stops? Do you want to run screaming from the Midwest like I do? Do you want to just settle in Ohio? How important is your career compared to a significant other? The sooner these blanks are filled in, the less serious the symptoms of P.G.S.D. will be. And although your goals will change as college goes on, even bringing them up will help ease the transition.
For those also suffering from P.G.S.D, there is a support group: all your older friends. All the ones who have already gone through the mess of finding a job, moving to a new area and joining adulthood. Talking with all these alumni is definitely a huge help. I have friends who have gone off on their own. I have friends who have stayed in Toledo. Each perspective helps combat pre-graduate stress disorder.
Crap. I am going to graduate in December.