Marcos Salazar is the founder of The Life After College Project, a research center that studies experiences of college graduates. In addition to being a certified leadership coach and researcher for the American Psychological Association, he is the author of Feeling Good for Life and The Turbulent Twenties Survival Guide, which addresses the psychological impact of college graduation. Salazar offers his expertise on the first 30 days of graduating college.
Students are not prepared for what they’re going to experience in the real world. Colleges and parents give students an unrealistic view of what they’re capable of after college. Students expect awesome jobs and high salaries. They quickly realize who they thought they were and what they are capable of are different in the real world.
You’re going through a very different stage in life and it’s a huge change. Much of your life is unstable; there’s no specific path and the academic path you used to follow your whole life just bursts. Graduates don’t know how to deal with the instability. I label it as “post-college depression” or “post-college blues.” Graduates feel helpless.
Students must learn how to deal with the change and what it involves. They have a major change in identity that I describe as the “vision of yourself.” You have to reevaluate who you are, since you’re no longer a student, and develop your emotional intelligence. This gives you the ability to manage change of perspective choices regarding your life and the direction you want it to go.
Initially, I think there’s a sense of excitement; then the reality sets in that you can’t go back to your old life.
Due to unrealistic expectations, there’s a fear of failure and that they are not going to be as happy as they expected to be. There’s also the social pressure of meeting people in new locations. I think a lot of times graduates have a plan and path set up and once graduations comes closer, it starts to settle in that it’s not going to happen or not going to happen as quickly.
Students go through a psychological evolution. They need to understand that there’s not one magic thing to make your life better, so you need to figure out what you want and don’t want for your life. I encourage them to explore the new world and themselves, but, most importantly, understand that there’s a long process to finding out who you really are.
The first 30 days sets the foundation for what your life may be like in your 20s and, possibly, beyond.
It varies based on the situation. For example, if someone moves to a new city, they need to explore the city, establish themselves and get into a routine as a way to increase self-esteem. The main thing is to get a good, solid sense of the reality of your situation and understand that you’re no longer a student and you’re moving forward with your life.
I see change as a positive thing. I love dealing with things others don’t. I like the unknown and the new, exciting things that come. I see it as an opportunity to learn, explore and grow from change.
…that it’s an opportunity for exploration and growth.
The best change I’ve ever made was moving to Washington D.C. I was at the path of going into clinical psychology, but then I became interested in politics and business. I just took a leap of faith and moved.
Your academic education has prepared you for practical tasks like finding a job or a place to live, but many of the challenges you'll face after college require a different set of skills that are psychological in nature. This book can help you....