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Graduating from college is huge, but there's one thing your professors may not have prepared you for: the reality of life after college. Knowing what to expect once the ink is dry on your degree can make the transition to the real world a smoother one.

Stage one

Elation and excitement

In the days before graduation and immediately after, you may be in full-on celebration mode

You're a little freaked out about being done, but relieved that the hard work of earning a degree is behind you. At this stage, take time to congratulate yourself and reflect on all the great experiences you had in school.

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Stage two

The post-graduation fog sets in

When you're in school, there's a certain amount of predictability and rhythm to your days. In the weeks immediately following graduation, you may feel disoriented and post-graduation blues can set in. Creating a schedule or routine for your days can help make the transition easier to handle.

Stage three

You find out the struggle is real

Reality can set in quickly after graduation. You might be looking for a job, moving into your first apartment, learning to manage a bank account, and paying bills on your own. Not to mention figuring out how to repay student loans. Instead of panicking, create a monthly budget, put your bills on autopilot, and connect with your lender to discuss repayment options.

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Stage four

Will I ever get hired?

Some new grads find a job right away, but for others it may take more time. 

If you're upset because you don't have a job, know that you're not alone.

check mark   Take action

  • Attend career and job fairs to meet recruiters and prospective employers.
  • Expand your job search to different cities or fields outside your major.
  • Consider a part-time job to gain professional experience.
  • Volunteer, which can improve your soft skills and grow your network.

Stage five

Ugh, my friends are doing so much better than me

Seeing your friends doing well after college can be a total confidence-killer and it can hurt your budget. FOMO can wreak havoc on your financial life, especially when you spend money you weren't planning to. What's a good way to deal? Unplug from social media and focus on doing you, rather than following the crowd.

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Stage six

Hmm, maybe this could work out

By this point, you're starting to find your groove and feel more positive about how your post-college life is going. And post-graduation blues you felt when leaving college are starting to ease. This is when you often really start adjusting to life after college. If you're struggling, be patient. Acceptance can take time.

Stage seven

What's next?

Seeing the final stage of life after college is more of a beginning than an end. It's where you start thinking about your long-term career, financial, and life plans. As you approach this stage, consider your accomplishments so far and then set even bigger goals for yourself moving forward.

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