My fingers tremble as I press submit to my third job application of the day. My email inbox is empty. There are zero responses from the various other jobs I’ve applied to. I sigh as I shut my computer, feeling defeated yet again. The question “What Are You Doing After College?” replays in my head. I guarantee every senior in college has been asked this question not just once but multiple times a day. Imagine seeing someone you haven’t seen in over three years, and that’s the first thing they say to you. This is not a great feeling. While those asking the question mean well and are simply curious, it is exhausting to hear repeatedly.  

Everything about leaving college and entering the real world is scary. Truthfully, it terrifies me. Do I know what I’m doing after I graduate? No. Do I need to know? Also, no. I believe that colleges in the U.S. place a lot of pressure on students to have a job in the area as soon they graduate from university. I don’t think this is reasonable or ideal for college students. Maybe for business majors because their system seems to work like that, but that is not the case for me, an English Creative Writing major. 

Until the second semester of my junior year, I thought college graduates had to have jobs once they left. I recently learned that this is not the case, and given this newfound information, I feel significantly less stressed upon nearing my graduation date. Graduating and not having a job is okay, and we we must emphasize that for college students. It just has yet to be figured out. I, for one, am not going to grad school (not immediately after), nor do I have a job ready. What I want to do is wait for it to magically happen after college. Things take time and patience. I’m letting go of the question of what comes next.  

After graduation, I want to travel around Europe, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain. In Portugal, I want to visit my cousin who works at a publishing company and talk to her about her life and how she got into that world. I want to discover a world outside Fairfield and my home, New York City. There is so much I want to see and learn before I settle down in my life. Eventually, you just figure out what you like/want to do and throw yourself at it. If it doesn’t work out, that’s okay! You move on. Life happens. That’s the beauty of life; being young and 22, there is so much life to live and learn.  

When COVID-19 hit, I realized that plans change, and because of that, we have to adapt. Sometimes, it can be hard to accept change, and life is not going as planned. I struggled to accept that I didn’t have a post-graduation job like my friends. I felt overwhelmed with nerves and anxiety. I took a step back from this scenario and changed my outlook on life. I have big dreams and aspirations for my life.  

For instance, I would love to get my master’s degree in Creative Writing and Publishing at Columbia University in New York City. Just typing this out fills my body with butterflies. I used to say I wanted to do this but would never get into Columbia University; it’s just impossible. I started to realize that talking about myself like this was highly harmful and unhealthy. I was putting myself before even knowing what my future would look like. I have put this negative attitude in the past and affirm the positives in my life. While unsure of what’s next, I am excited and open to life’s possibilities and opportunities. 

My answer to the question: “What Are You Doing After College?” is I don’t know, and I’m happy with that. College grads don’t need to know what we are doing at 22. We should embrace the idea that sometimes, students still need to figure it out, and that’s okay. While I understand the eventual need to secure a job and handle responsibilities like bills and rent, I’m choosing not to stress about it now. Instead, let’s shift the focus to a more exciting question: What do you envision for yourself after graduation? By asking this, we can ignite enthusiasm among students rather than instilling fear and anxiety. Graduating isn’t solely about diving into the workforce or pursuing further education; a world of exploration awaits us. 

About The Author

-- Senior | Contributing Writer | English: Creative Writing

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