The Post-Graduation Slump: Tackling Life After University

November 30, 2022

It finally happened: university came to an end, you moved back home and you’re sitting there in your teenage bedroom thinking “what now?” Thus begins an era of uncertainty, anxiety and obsessive reminiscing that anyone with a degree knows all too well… That is, if you enter it unprepared. 

We’ve all faced this daunting period but the good news is that there is an alternative! Follow our pointers for wayward graduates, and you’ll hopefully feel a little less lost when the time comes to throw your mortarboard in the air and embark on the next chapter. 

Allow yourself to mourn university

If you’re experiencing emotional withdrawal symptoms from the incessant high that was student life, it’s important not to push this down. For most, university is an enormously exciting period in our lives, filled with novelty and fun, and the comedown can be pretty confronting. 

As painful as it might be initially, honouring any feelings that come up is a vital part of the mourning period, so if you’re struggling, that’s ok. Onwards and upwards might be the message of the day but remember that grieving is not off-limits. Give yourself the time you need to process the end of this stage of your life before rushing into the next one. 

Reach out to friends

The start of life after university can be isolating. It’s easy to feel as though everyone around you is happily on a rewarding graduate scheme, publishing academic papers or carving out a fulfilling path for themselves one way or another.  But for every dispirited graduate miserably googling “what should I do with my life after university?”, you can guarantee there will be a hundred more doing the exact same thing at any given time. 

There will always be that handful of students who have been planning graduate life since their second year of university, but don’t let the linkedin feeds of these precocious few stop you from getting in touch with your other university friends. Chances are most are experiencing the same feelings as you and if there’s one thing misery loves, it’s company.

Keep your brain stimulated

The end (at least for now) of formal education doesn’t mean you stop learning. You’ll likely be fresh off the dissertation train, your most intensive mental workout yet, and so day-to-day life might understandably feel lacking in intellectual stimulation. But the pursuit of knowledge doesn’t end when you leave campus. 

Read books, watch documentaries, go to museums... Think of university as having given you the tools to start learning independently. Plus, exposing yourself to culture can be wonderfully life-affirming and a great way to stave off the depressive demons that graduate life all too often dangles. 

Earn some money

General post-graduation unpleasantness is often exacerbated by the feeling of being a financial drain, particularly if you’ve moved back in with your parents. No one likes to feel this way, so it’s a good idea to start earning money as soon as you can, however little it may be at first. 

But - and we cannot stress this point enough - the choice you make now is not the be-all and end-all. Your first job after university - even your second, third or forth - does not define you or your future. Whether you’re working at a law firm, a cafe or in the tutoring business, you have total freedom to change your mind at any point and radically alter your career trajectory should you so choose. So don’t let the fear of job commitment hold you back from beginning to earn an income and feel financially independent.

Develop new skills

Just as graduation does not signal the end of learning, neither does it spell the end of self-improvement. During university, you likely had the feeling of being in a constant state of becoming better informed, sharper, and generally more capable - higher education will do that. 

Don’t let the momentum die! Sign up for courses, set yourself projects such as language learning, and explore creative pursuits that might be completely new to you. This will not only help keep your self-esteem afloat, but improve your employability for the dreaded job search.  

Plan an adventure

A common feature of the post-graduation slump is the assumption that the end of university spells the end of being wild and impulsive. But this is far from the truth. You will likely still have a decent chunk of your carefree twenties to live out, so have fun! 

Even if, after three money-guzzling years of study, you don’t quite have the funds to hit Skyscanner straight away, plan a future trip to look ahead to to help shake off the “I’m old” vibes that graduation too often carries. In short, travel, experiment, take risks - remind yourself that university was only the beginning of everything life has to offer! 

Chin up, new grad!

Life after university can be challenging to adjust to. Unexpected emotions abound, but know that you’re not alone. Think of this time not as the end of an era but the beginning of another, and start looking forward to the slew of opportunities that are open to you now that you’re degreed-up and hungry for the next chapter. 

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Ella Burgess

Ella is a content writer at Tutor House and explores a range of education centred topics, having previously spent time teaching English while living abroad. A foreign language enthusiast and lover of text art, she is devoted to words in all their forms. She'll happily immerse herself in anything wordy from conceptual art to vintage murder mysteries.

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