Fact 1: It’s the twelfth day in 2010.
Fact 2: The Class of 2009 graduated in May (semester system) and June (quarter system).
Conclusion: It’s been 5 or 6 months since you graduated.
On the day of your graduation, you are hopeful of the future, of opportunities coming your way. After all, that’s what all those graduation speeches are for–to pump you up. That’s because those that have walked before us know that the real world isn’t as idealistic as your college one. You wake up the next morning and begin thinking: God, I am actually done. I don’t have to wake up and class. This is great! Oh God, I got to find a job. I got to work off my debt. This is not so great! Oh God, oh God. What have you been doing since that day? Yes, let’s freak out together.
After graduation, there are many routes to take. There are 3 parts to this Post Grad identity; am I missing any?:
1. Go immediately for your Master’s or Ph.D. or Law School or Med School. This might be the most common pathway undergrads choose. The process usually starts around your second year of undergrad, as you secure letters of recommendation from professors or internships. You want to visit your professors during their hours and to make sure that they know exactly who you are. Study about your professors beforehand, read up on their research, then show up to their office with confidence.
You also want to work on your Curriculum Vitae (CV), which is essentially a resume for academic purposes. When I mean academic, I mean any research positions you’ve had, any research papers you’ve done, any research you’ve presented–the key is research. You may also want to put in any symposium or academic talks you’ve attended.
Also, research on potential Grad Schools. Look at their programs. Does it fit with you and what you want to research? Do they have fellowships? Do they give out loads of money for your research? What about the professors? Are there any you desperately want to work with and learn from? You may want to visit the campus because if you’ll be spending 2 to 7 years at that school, you should like attending it.
Around the later half of your third year, you should study your butt off for the GREs, LSATs, MCATs, GMATs and then actually take them. If you don’t like your score, this gives you enough time to study, take it again, and redeem yourself. Then, when the applications for Grad School are due as early as October, you are ready!
Then, your rejection or acceptance letters come in, and by the time you wear that cap and gown, you know you have a secure future–a spot at whatever prestigious university you’ve chosen and accepted you.
2. Taking a break…for a year…or two! I’ve spoken with about twenty graduate students and post-doctoral candidates, and most of them say that taking a break is important. *Gasps* A break? That puts me behind my cohorts. They say you’ll thank yourself in the end. You may need that time to “find” yourself after being in school for so long. After all, if you want to get your MA or Ph.D, that’s MORE years at school and DECREASES your “you” time. That means no breaks from here on out because after your get those degrees, there’s work, more work, and perhaps starting a family.
And of course, there’s also that slight chance that you don’t see yourself in the future doing what you got your BA or BS in or want to postpone that dream. For example, let’s say you got your degree in Psychology and Sociology. And as you take your much-needed break, you realize maybe Nursing is a better a life choice for now.
You may also want to use your break to explore the world. If you didn’t use opportunities to study abroad, you now have the time to go to places you could only dream of visiting. You may not get the chance once you start Grad School or when family life takes over, although you may get that chance to travel to an exotic place for your honeymoon. *Wink, wink*
You can also use your break-time to add experience to your CV/Resume. You may decide working at a place that relates to your intended Grad School major.
OR, you may need that break to get a job, save up, and work off that undergraduate debt. If you are trying to get a job, good luck. Apparently, it’s harder than getting into Harvard.
3. No Grad School for me…a BA/BS is enough, and I’m going to just work thank you. Some people’s goals is reaching a BA/BS. That’s fine. You did it. You’re done. Congratulations.
Now, remember when I said “Yes, let’s freak out together?” That’s probably because I’m the guy who is doing something unconventional. During my “break,” I’m going back to school to take my nursing prerequisites so I can apply for Nursing school, whereas most psychology graduates are in Grad School right now. You need to follow your own path–the one that works for you. But lucky for us, there are people out there who want to help you as you experience your post grad identity.
The people of The Post Grad blog are there to lend a helping hand and give some friendly advice. They’ve walked in your shoes and want to ease your anxieties of this new identity you’ve achieved (a Sociology reference for you Sociology majors). If you’re experiencing a quarter-life crisis, or trying to find a career path, The Post Grad is there for you. If you’re taking a break, you should keep your mind sharp. And as for me? Let’s just say that I need to shed some of that undergraduate fat I’ve accumulated. This post grad body of mine needs to stay fit.
So head over to The Post Grad site, and tell them Gio sent you (I’m a huge fan of theirs). And embrace your Post Grad identity. Oh, and congratulations on graduating!