Graduate Blues: A Message from the Other Side

A recent graduate’s view on university life, one year after graduation

By Chloe Pearce

It’s coming up to that time of year- you’re trudging through those dissertations and final exams and many of you will be coming to the end of your studies and preparing for graduation. Some of you will be looking forward to it, finally getting closer to the blissful freedom of summer and a fresh start away from university. However, many of you, as I was at this point last year, will be bricking it.

It’s natural to be feeling apprehensive about what lies ahead, but for many university students, the prospect of going back home to your parents does not come with the same relief that it did over the summer breaks while studying. University, particularly in small, tight-knit campuses like Holloway’s, has become the cosy nest that your parent’s home once was and leaving it feels a little heart-breaking. For many graduates faced with going back home, it can be difficult to adjust when you’ve got used to living away from your parents and have come to enjoy living independently. It also means leaving the friends and housemates you’ve become so close to, who have now literally dispersed across the world.

Of course, not all of us do go back home – there are always other options. One obvious alternative for many is to stay on at university for further study in master’s courses, PhDs, conversion courses or diplomas. Many of my friends have chosen to do this. There are also options like PGCEs (for the very brave) and even the dreaded internship (too often unpaid). However, the main option for many, like myself, is to pop this lovely university bubble and go in to full time work. This should be an exciting path but if, like me, you have no idea what you want to do with your life, then it’s pretty bewildering and can leave you feeling very lost indeed. What is important to remember and what I had to keep reminding myself is that you are certainly not alone.

Entering in to a full-time career is understandably a daunting transition for graduates. It is a new way of life and the new responsibility can be crushing for young people who have only ever known the education system and whose only real experience of work is casual part time work, or even less than that. It seems that we are not always fully prepared for a future of work when we have become so used to the regimented schedule of the academic system. The thought of 40+ years in work can seem like a vast and empty ocean compared to the rockpools of school and university education.

We are all aware of the importance of mental health in young people and students, with the pressures of academic life, but no one seems to be talking about how significantly depression and anxiety spike up during this point of immense change and uncertainty in our lives. It is a huge transition during a time when it may seem there is little support around you. However, there are a few things you should remember to keep you going. I’m not perfect and am still uncertain about many things in the future, but these are the things I have learnt, one year on from graduation:

  1. Don’t panic and don’t rush in to anything- You have a lifetime of work ahead of you, so you don’t need to rush in to a career immediately.
  2. Give yourself a well-earned rest and reward yourself- you really do deserve it.
  3. Grades aren’t everything.
  4. Money isn’t everything.
  5. Stay in touch- it’s hard to keep in contact with friends after uni, but a quick catch up could really mean a lot.


Chloe Pearce

Featured image courtesy of Royal Holloway

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