After years of homework, tests, group projects, and other academic responsibilities, you did it! The finish line is in sight. While we hope you are reveling in the excitement surrounding graduation and the relief that comes with being done with finals, the notion of what’s around the corner once celebrating is over can make one feel uneasy.
Whether you’re planning to head straight into a graduate program or a job, or if you know you have a job hunt ahead of you, the change in environment and daily routines can be daunting. Add to that the fact that graduating may mean you no longer have easy access to a social support system, your campus counseling center, and other resources that help you achieve or focus on your mental health and well-being goals.
The Transition from Student to Working Adult
Graduating from college is both a huge accomplishment and transition. The changes in daily living environments, schedules, and potentially needing a shift of mindset from student to a working adult are felt by all recent college graduates. These changes can cause disruptions to everyday routines, so you have to learn to be patient with yourself as you figure out a new normal.
Additionally, the ease of making and maintaining social connections with friends and others on campus may become more challenging after graduation. You may need to alter your expectations for how often you connect with friends and what your social circle looks like.
With the uncertainty of a new chapter ahead of you, it is normal to feel depressed or go through the grieving process of what you’ve left behind as a college student. Here are some symptoms of depression to be mindful of, so you can reach out for help if you need it:
- Feeling lonely or sadness
- Experiencing decreased motivation/unable to complete tasks
- Losing interest in things you once enjoyed
- Feeling disorganized or the inability to keep things on track
- Experiencing a general sense of hopelessness
Seven Ways to Support Your Mental Health Post-graduation
While you may not be able to take advantage of the services that SUNY offers, you’re a forever member of the SUNY family, so here are some tips and suggestions for how to support your mental health post-graduation.
Be mindful of what accommodations and resources you will have available to you following graduation
Whether you’re moving back home, to a new residential area, or to another college campus, consider putting together a resource document for local support services that can provide the care ou received while at a SUNY school. This may include County mental health services, local food pantries, housing accommodations, and otherwise.
Set aside more time in your schedule to keep in touch with friends and make new ones.
One of the hardest things about graduating is not being able to walk next door or quickly travel to see a friend. To maintain the social bonds (and romantic ones, too!) you made in college, get creative in the ways you keep in touch (e.g., group Zoom calls, virtual gaming platforms, group texts, etc.). Additionally, try to reframe this next chapter in your life as a way to learn more about yourself—it may feel uncomfortable at first, but spending time alone is a great way to be in touch with who you are, what drives you, and how you’re feeling.
Plan ahead to manage the stressors that may come along after graduation.
After leaving college, you may no longer have easy access to amenities like a dining hall, fitness center, counseling and health centers, and other resources. With this in mind, take some time to figure out how you’ll maintain your exercise routine, explore how meditation and mindfulness can support your mental health, as well as what tools you’ll need in your toolbox for stress management.
- To stay active, consider joining a local gym or take advantage of the warmer months and workout outside.
- To eat healthier, look to the Internet for cooking lessons and affordable ways to whip up nutritious recipes, such as doing meal prep for the week and buying food in bulk to save money.
Familiarize yourself with your state’s insurance process.
Familiarize yourself with your state’s insurance process: it is important to understand how co-pays, deductibles, and referrals work if you want to work with healthcare practitioners who accept insurance. If you don’t have access to health insurance, visit healthcare.gov to learn about more options. You can also work with practitioners who use a sliding scale, which can make appointments more affordable for those paying out of pocket.
Create a list of what kinds of healthcare practitioners you’d like on your wellness team.
Since you won’t have access to campus healthcare, research local primary care doctors and work on setting up an appointment with one who resonates most with you. If you currently are on medication to support your mental health, make appointments with mental health practitioners as soon as possible so that your prescriptions won’t run out. Keep in mind: You may need to acquire a referral from a primary care physician before working with a new mental health practitioner.
To work through arising emotional changes following graduation, consider seeing a therapist to help you transition.
Explore career opportunities or additional schooling.
If you aren’t sure just yet what you want to do after graduating, consider connected with your campus career center or alumni center for assistance with finding a job. You can also research employment agencies or recruiters to assist with your job hunt, making sure that they have a good reputation before doing any outreach.
If you know that you’d like to further your academic career, take some time to research schools and programs that pique your interest, and connect with those campuses as soon as possible to express your interest.
Create a daily schedule that includes action items toward achieving your post-graduation goals.
Without the structure of classes, study sessions, club meetings, etc., it may be difficult to transition into making a schedule for yourself if you aren’t immediately entering the job market or pursuing graduate studies. By creating a schedule that’s filled with tasks that will support your next chapter (e.g., apply to a few jobs, do mock interviews, make time for exercise, etc.), you may feel more productive and fulfilled as you work toward your post-graduation goals.
If you are experiencing a crisis and do not have access to a healthcare practitioner, you can reach out to the following resources:
SUNY Crisis Text Line
Text Got5U to 741-741
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
New York State COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline:
Veterans Crisis Line:
- Call: 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and Press 1
- Text: 838255
- Chat: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/get-help/chat
Support for deaf and hard of hearing:
- Chat and text message (838255)
- For TTY users: Use your preferred relay service or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255. Or chat with us.