10 Helpful Steps to Prepare for Life after College Graduation

Moving from the safer boundaries of university into the real world is like taking off your training wheels and riding solo for the first time. Scary and exciting! So, to help ease fears and double the excitement, here are 10 steps you can take now to prepare for life after college graduation.

 With this practical advice for navigating life after college, I hope you’re able to look with anticipation and excitement to the next phase of life: post grad life.

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Advice for Life after College Graduation

How do you move on after graduation?

To help with moving on after graduation, think about how you felt when you were transitioning from high school to college. Chances are you had a lot of the same feelings. 

College was this big, scary change that you didn’t know how or if you would survive. But you did. Adulting is the same thing! 

What will continue your personal growth and lead to your professional development is real world experience. The post grad life. Life after college.

I was able to move on after graduation because I realized that college was something I had outgrown. I had developed a lot of competencies and skills that would be a solid foundation for me in the real world. But if I were to stay in college, I’d remain stagnant. 

By staying in college, I might have learned more academic material. But I’d stop growing as a person, stuck in the same old circle of opportunities.

Why am I sad that I’m graduating?

For you, moving on after graduation may not feel natural. Perhaps, you even feel sad. If that’s the case, don’t ignore your emotions. Give yourself space and time to process all the change that’s happening and your feelings about leaving college.

  • Cherish the memories you’ve created while in college and make more with the time you have left. 
  • Remember that you may be clinging to college life because it’s what you know. The unknown always seems more daunting and stressful. 

But just like when you first arrived as a freshman on campus, you will learn and readjust to post grade life. Safe to say, one day, you’ll even enjoy it! 

To prepare for life after graduation, there are simple steps you can take today to make the transition easier.

  1. Deal with Post Graduation Anxiety
  2. Start Learning Adulting Skills
  3. Gain Relevant Work Experience
  4. Find a Job & Start Early
  5. Go to Career Fairs & Network
  6. Get Coaching from a Mentor / Career Coach
  7. Establish a Community of Friends
  8. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
  9. Make Your Faith Your Own
  10. Tackle One Thing at a Time

1 – Deal with Post Graduation Anxiety

Post graduation anxiety may trigger once it sinks in that you are graduating and leaving the university world behind. You’ve spent four+ years in this place and have so many great memories. 

On top of that, you have a great group of friends that it took you four years to find, and now you’re just going to leave it all behind? What if you can’t get a job or find an apartment?

All of these worries are legit concerns that come with post grade life. However, instead of letting the anxiety grow, it’s important to reach out to others and find resources to help answer these questions.

For example, dealing with post graduation anxiety may look like:

  • Talking with your friends and sharing your post grad life concerns
  • Reaching out to a mental health professional on campus for support
  • Asking parents and older siblings or relatives how they transitioned to post grad life
  • Finding Resources about renting an apartment, developing a budget, writing a resume, and other tasks to prepare for life after college

2 – Start Learning Adulting Skills

To smooth the transition from college to the real world, you can prepare for post grad life by learning adulting skills early. While in college, you can take on new responsibilities to help you become more independent. 

Some critical adulting habits you can start mastering in college are:

  • Saving and Budgeting
  • Steward Time Well
  • Grocery Shop and Meal Plan
  • Start Building a Credit Score
  • Develop Interviewing Skills
  • And Other Adulting Skills

3 – Gain Relevant Work Experience

One of the best ways to prepare for post grad life is to get a job. However, before that, it’s helpful to gain relevant work experience in your desired career field.

To help you land a job and figure out what it is you want to do, do an internship or volunteer somewhere you can get hands on experience.

Work experience is beneficial for you in college as you can learn what types of jobs you like and don’t like. Usually, you develop also skills such as communication and writing skills, presentation skills, and professional office conduct.

When you interview for jobs later on, you can point to your internship, job, and volunteer experiences to demonstrate problem solving ability, customer service experience, time management, and more. 

You can have all the “book smarts” and degrees you want, but if you don’t have relevant experience, book knowledge won’t matter. Academic theory doesn’t always match the real world. 

4 – Find a Job

It’s not surprise that the next step to prepare for life after college graduation is to find a job. 

It can be tempting to put off job searching so that you can “enjoy the last moments with your friends.” But it will really have the opposite effect and cause more post graduation anxiety. 

You’ll be stressed because you’re unsure where your next paycheck will come from, how you’ll pay rent, or where you’ll be headed after graduation. 

It will be easier to transition out of college if you know where you’re going next and what job you’ll be working. 

Start early. Don’t wait until the last minute to start applying for jobs. Many companies, at least on the corporate side, start hiring new graduates 8-10 months before they graduate. 

5 –Go to Career Fairs & Network

Go to career fairs. These are great ways to meet with companies that have a good relationship with your school and are more likely to hire your school’s graduates.

Network with alumni. Take advantage of alumni networks and ask advisors and professors for contacts in your field. They may be able to help you get your resume reviewed or put in a good recommendation for you. Here are networking tips to get you started.

Read up on Your Field. Lastly, to aid in the transition from university to working life, start reading up on the working world and the industry or career field you are going into.

6 –Get Coaching from a Mentor / Career Coach

One of the major challenges of preparing for post grad life is finding a job. Thankfully, there are many resources to help you in securing post grad employment. First is the career services center on college campuses.

These career centers are staffed to help students proofread their resume, practice interviewing, and review short answer questions for job applications. Usually, these services are offered free to students. It’s all a matter of reaching out to them.

Second, you can find help from a mentor. Mentors can be university alumni, college professors, or career professionals. 

With your mentor, you can research career opportunities or discuss tips for interviews. Your mentor can provide insights to aid you in your job search or have suggestions to bolster your application.  

7 – Establish a Community of Friends

Preparing for life after college graduation doesn’t have to be a solo event. Your friends and family can support you in moving on after graduation.

You should use your established community of friends to support you and be willing to build new friendships post-graduation.

  • First, stay in touch with your old friends. Make sure to share your new adventures with each other so you can be encouraged by people also navigating the adulting struggle.
  • Second, put yourself out there to meet new friends once you graduate. It will take time but starting to plant some roots early will serve you well later. Here are some ways to meet new people in your post grad life.
  • Join an adult sports team. 
  • Start volunteering in your new city. 
  • Go to a company happy hour. 
  • Attend a meet-n-greet for an interest group. 
  • Find a new church and go to community group.

8 – Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

When preparing for life after graduation, I was constantly comparing myself to others. Looking at other people’s LinkedIn posts, I was worried that I was behind since I hadn’t secured a job yet or didn’t know what I was doing after graduation.

But the Comparison Trap steals our joy. When we compare ourselves to others, envy and anger encircle our hearts. We can’t look forward to the future because we’re too busy sulking about what we don’t have.

To combat the desire to compare ourselves to others, approach the situation with gratitude. Thank God for the next step he’s given you. 

In some of the best career advice I ever got, I learned that God created us to accomplish his purpose for us. Not his purpose for someone else.

Let this truth give you freedom that your future is not going to look like everybody else’s. That way, you can genuinely be happy for your friends and focus on what God is calling you (and only you) to do next.

9 – Make Your Faith Your Own

Along the same lines of the previous step, growing your faith is so important to preparing for adjusting to post grad life. Your faith will be a strong foundation to rely on as you are propelled into adulthood after graduation. 

Learning how to read the Bible, how to pray, and finding spiritual mentors and community will strengthen your faith for the post grad life. 

But more importantly, college is a time for you to make your faith your own instead of relying on parents or grandparents to “link” you to Christianity. As an adult who will be on their own soon, it’s time to decide what you believe and why.

10 – Tackle One Thing at a Time

One of the challenges of preparing for life after college graduation is not getting overwhelmed. To combat this, I suggest tackling one adulting thing at a time. 

Space them out over your last semester in college instead of packing it all in at the end. Focus on the job first, then finding the right apartment, then creating a moving plan, etc.

Along the way, make sure to establish habits for self-care: The real world can be draining. By learning how to take time for yourself, you’ll know how to cope with stress once you enter post grad life.

black young woman surrounded by boxes with puzzled look on her face

How do you survive post grad life?

You survive the post grad life one day at a time. And each day, give yourself a healthy margin of error and a lot of grace.

A healthy margin of error means allowing yourself room to make mistakes because it may take you longer to get the hang of things. 

For example, the first time I set up electricity for my apartment, the process was stressful and confusing. I wish I’d given myself more time so that I could approach the situation calmly and have had the time to ask for help. 

Whether it’s renting your first apartment, going grocery shopping and meal planning, or buying a new car, give yourself more time than you need. 

Ask for help and recommendations. Do your research and take time to understand all your options. And if you mess up:

Give yourself grace because adulting is hard

And learn to laugh at yourself because you will make mistakes. Things are guaranteed to go wrong at some point—that’s part of the adulting struggle. 

Post Grad life comes with ups and downs, ironically much like the college experience. Preparing for the transition from college to career will help you be ready for the next step, but there’s no way to be prepared for everything. 

Hopefully, these 10 steps to prepare for life after college graduation will give you the time and peace to enjoy your last months in college. 

How do you cope with life after graduation?

Leave me a comment below!

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