It’s getting to be that time of year. Yes, that’s right, graduation is closely approaching, and with it more fresh faced youngsters are heading out into the world. But those kiddos have some complex emotions going on. Graduates all of a sudden have to confront a reality that they pushed aside for the last four-ish years.
Basically, there are a lot of hormonal senior students walking around right now. Everyone is trying to figure out what to expect. Students are asking questions like these: How long will it take me to get my dream job? Am I going to have to move back home? Do I have a professional wardrobe?
Have you ever heard of the five stages of grief? College kids get a version of that. Unfortunately the stages of college grief are not nice and clear cut. They skip around and go back and forth. If you’re about to graduate, you’ve probably hit one of these stages. Which one are you at?
That’s right! Soon-to-be graduates go through denial. This is the first stage to hit when students realize, oh crap, this gravy train is coming to an end. Then suddenly it’s like, graduating is great, right? You’re going to have a totally great job right away, and you’re not even going to need to worry about all those darn loans or anything. Oh and all of your friendships, you’ll just remind yourself of all of those people who told you that the friends you make in college are the friends you will keep the rest of your life. You’ll all stay in touch and it’ll hardly be like anything has changed.
Stage 2 seems to hit anytime something goes wrong. Suddenly all the good times flee and all you can think about is how stupid college. They’re making me pay a graduation fee? What is that even? Wasn’t my tuition enough? Apparently not. They’re going to squeeze out every dollar they can. And your roommate, well you’ve had enough of her. You just want her to wash her dishes already! Ugh, you are so ready to be done. College isn’t even that great. You’re ready to leave. So ready.
Luckily for all involved (friends, parents, professors, roommates, etc.), you don’t stay angry for long, and that’s good and healthy. But then you start trying to make deals like, “Okay so I’m going to leave, but I don’t want to leave my friends. So let’s just plan to meet up once every two weeks. I get it, we’ll be five hours away, but it’ll be totally worth it. Okay, okay then once a month.”
Also is it crazy to want to stay in touch with some of your favorite professors? You don’t want to let go. You’ll do anything.
This stage hits on and off throughout the final year. Out of the blue the littlest things will have you in tears like the last time you move into a dorm, the last time you eat in the cafeteria, the last newspaper article you edit, the last class you attend, or the last game you play in. You don’t want to leave. Why should you have to? You’re not done learning yet. You have so much more to learn. You don’t want to move on and leave your friends behind. College was an important place for you. You grew up a lot here.
It is okay, you can cry. No one is judging here.
This is the only stage that comes and stays permanently, and it arrives at different times for each graduate. Some students reach this stage early on in their senior year. They’re on top of things. They’ve got life figured out, and they’re ready. Some of us don’t hit this stage until graduation day when we’re on the stage receiving our diploma. It hit’s us that it’ll all be okay. Graduating is natural. Then others of us don’t reach this stage for a while after we graduate. It’s okay; we will give you a bit of grace, but just this once. Don’t milk it out for too long.