By Jon Stinson
Bangor- We’re nearing the time of the year where students nationwide are preparing to end their careers as students and attending graduation. Be it from college or high school, ending one’s formal education and beginning another volume in one’s life can be a large step. Those leaving high school face the decision to enter a competitive workforce, or taking on the long-term investment of attending some form of post-secondary education like universities or trade schools. Others who are leaving post-secondary education are then tasked with the daunting task of racing to join a professional field to beat the deadlines of student loans.
A mix of anxiety, exhaustion, and zealous relief culminates in students in the build-up to graduation. Exiting the education stage of one’s life can leave many people soul-searching as obtaining an education can often take a third or more of someone’s lifetime. Those of us that have attended university have been in this position before, are left with the expectation of finding a career using their degree or continuing their education to another level. In further understanding the mindset of the college graduate we’re going to speak to two people who took different approaches to life post-university.
Chris Arnold received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice one year ago and has chosen a career path unrelated to his earned qualification.
“It feels a little disheartening, but companies that manage student loans don’t care where the money comes from,” says Arnold. He’s referring to the shadow that follows everyone post-graduation, most loans give students 6 months after graduation to obtain a steady income to begin regular payments on the exorbitant cost of post-secondary education.
“Universities and Colleges try hard to prepare you for the field of your choice, but they don’t really prepare you for the realities of balancing obtaining a career and the life you want.” continues Arnold. A longtime local in the greater Bangor area, Arnold wants to stay close to home and finding a career in his field in the area has really proven more difficult than expected. As a result, he has made the decision to change focus from finding a degree-related occupation to finding work that can adequately fund his loan payments and lifestyle.
Chris Arnold’s story can be seen as a college student’s worst nightmare, but the reality is that schools aim to enable graduates to get a degree related career without taking into account the choices in life these professionals make. If you’d rather stay close to home then you’re left to face the job market realities of your arena.
Unfortunately, this is a situation many students find themselves in. They work hard to get a degree in a field they enjoy but don’t want to face the reality of moving to the best location for that field. The fact is not all occupational fields are represented the same in all locations, and it can be a difficult choice to move away from their lives and loved ones. Challenges like these can really wear on fresh graduates, often leading former students to take unrelated jobs in order to cling to their previous lifestyle.
Darian Hughes received a bachelor’s degree in psychology two years ago but unlike Arnold chose to continue her education by seeking a masters degree.
“I always knew I wanted to get a graduate’s degree,” Says Hughes, “I took a year off and it really made it a harder choice to go back”
Hughes laments that many who take a break from seeking an education struggle or down-right refuse to go back. With a career goal in mind from the beginning, she found taking the plunge again a little easier than some other students. She represents another path graduating students choose, continuing education.
“School can feel like a prison while you’re there, but when you’re on your way out it’s another story. When people are unsure of things they often can be compelled to cling to any form of normalcy they had in their lives. For many graduating students that normalcy can be school, the very ‘prison’ they once dreaded.” Said Hughes. Hughes admits that in many ways school can be a comfort, its consistency brings stability to the lives of young adults.
Often students feel pressured to continue their education due to feeling unsure of what stage comes next in their life. Feeling unsure of what is to come next after spending the vast majority of one’s life pursuing some form of education is a natural response to being plunged into a vastly different lifestyle.
“Graduating students should really take it in stride. In the grand scheme of things school is a drop in the bucket, try not to make rash decisions while stressed.” Said Hughes, “Professional success doesn’t happen instantaneously, don’t get down on yourself if it doesn’t spark off right away.”
As we approach the summer of 2019 and the litany of graduations this year, it’s important for students to know they don’t have to feel pressured to achieve professional success right after school. Graduates should be feeling relieved about school coming to an end, without the weight of the expectation of professional success many students have levied on them. Success takes time, and taking advantage of the resources universities like Husson University offer can help smooth the transition to professional life. Husson and other schools have career services offices to help students and alumni alike in the search for careers and/or freelance opportunities.