As Block 5 kicks into gear, many seniors on campus have started, or continued, to question what life will be like after Colorado College. The brewing post-graduation anxiety can elicit a wide variety of reactions from seniors. From financial concerns to last minute major requirements, there are many stressors at play that seniors must conceptualize and transform into action. I sat down with a few seniors to gain insight into their post-graduation plans.
Casey Keegan is a senior Biochemistry major who is looking into a health profession.
What are your post-graduation plans?
I applied to the Physician’s Assistant Masters Program which is a profession that is sort of like a step above a nurse and a step below a doctor. I have one interview out of the three schools I’ve applied to so far, but I am not 100 percent sure I will get in this year, so if I don’t get in then I will take a year to work.
How much preparation have you put into deciding your plans?
I’ve been involved with the Health Professions Club and I have been meeting with Jane Burns throughout my whole college career. Jane is actually the one who told me about the PA profession, so I wouldn’t be here if she hadn’t. I researched on my own what schools require, and catered applications to each school. I switched my schedule a lot last year when I realized I wanted to apply to PA school right away, so I focused on finishing the requirements that I needed for graduate school rather than my major requirements.
What has been your family’s response to your plans?
My family has been really supportive. No one in my family is in the medical field except for my grandma who is a nurse, so my parents can’t help me with any of the specific stuff but they’ve been supportive and they’re excited about the idea. I keep them updated.
How do you cope with the anxiety or stress about planning for time after CC?
I had a wave of excitement and motivation when I was applying to schools but since there’s absolutely nothing I can do about [getting into graduate school], it has just made me pretty anxious. I went on a block break trip with a few friends and I decided at that time to leave my phone at home so that I would take a break from checking my email and constantly worrying about grad schools. I just get completely off the grid for a few hours at a time, turn my phone on airplane mode and try to focus on the present. There’s nothing I can do right now to help myself get into graduate school, so I might as well just do my best not to think about it.
Since this interview Keegan has been accepted into the Butler University Physician Assistants program where she will be attending in May. While some students have immediate plans after graduation, others are taking the year off to work or travel.
Sophia Rasmussen is an Organismal Biology and Ecology Major.
What are your plans for after graduation?
I’m going to take a year off. Hopefully in that year I will work to complete some service hours.
Why are you taking a year off?
School is hard and I’ve been in it for so long. Also, I haven’t completed all that I need to for graduate school. It would just be impossible for me to apply and get in.
Does your financial situation affect this decision?
I’ve been very lucky that my parents have been so generous. They haven’t made me worry about finances.
When do you feel the most stressed?
When I don’t think about [future plans], and it sort of creeps up, I feel bad and stressed. In the midst of afternoons, I ask myself what am I going to do when this is over?
How do you deal with anxiety?
On good days I’ll go to the gym. Most of the time it will be Netflix.
Do you have any advice to underclassmen about planning for post-graduation?
If you have the time, I would volunteer during school, in your area of interest, because right now I have three or four different things I want to do at this point and so I wish had taken some time, via block breaks or what not, to volunteer and see if that’s really what I’m interested in.
Other students see the fierce competition within the U.S. and have decided to take their skills and talents abroad. Julian Neylan is a History-Political Science major, who may choose this option.
What are your post-graduation plans?
Nothing solid. The main thing I don’t want to do is take on more debt immediately, so I want to mitigate that by looking into programs that are free or paid for. They’re mostly competitive so I’m not expecting to get them. Last ditch effort, I could go to China and make a fair amount of money teaching English, even by U.S. standards, so I’ll just do private tutoring for a year and try to figure everything out.
What is your financial situation?
Honestly, my family would help a little bit, which is appreciated, but it’s definitely a contributing factor. I think everybody going to graduate school should consider finances.
Do you feel any stress or anxiety about your future and how do you feel about it?
*eyes widen* Yes I feel it! Anxiety has been about looking out for danger in the past. However when you’re applying for a job, if your body is going into an adrenaline overkill that generally isn’t helpful. I feel like a lot people have anxiety about their future. There are a lot of people here at CC who try to hide that it is difficult.
How do you manage your stress?
I procrastinate with other work. So if I don’t want to think about it, I’ll go deeper in my Chinese class or something like that. The worst times are when I don’t have that much to do. Like gee I really should be applying to things.
What are some resources you use for planning after graduation?
Tiger Link is a great way to talk to alumni. I also hit up all my professors for jobs.
Any advice for underclassmen already beginning to feel the pressure?
I feel like this sort of anxiety is not helpful. You should do things that push you so you can develop responses that help with difficult things. By senior year, when you inevitably face the real world and there are difficult things, you will be ready for it. So do something that utterly scares you because you’ll either come out stronger or know you can’t do it. Both of which are good results.
On the other hand, even as late as senior year, plans can change. Eva McKinsey decided to pursue Psychology in graduate school instead of Political Science, her major.
What are your plans for post-graduation?
I have a general plan. I am applying and planning to attend a Psychology post-graduate program. Since I’m a Political Science major, I know that that can’t happen right after graduation, so I plan to take at least one, probably two, years to do research on applying to Psychology programs.
Why the sudden switch in programs?
Mostly it is because of my experiences through college. Throughout the years, I’ve worked in politics and I’ve also spent some time in Washington D.C. I realize that I don’t see myself being a part of the world of politics for long-term opportunities. I’ve always been interested in healthcare and mental health so my studies in Political Psychology have shifted my focus toward a more psychological lens. I’d like to pursue that further.
What resources have you used to help make your decision or plan?
I work at the Career Center. Throughout my college experience I’ve been extremely lucky to be exposed to that resource on a near daily basis. It has definitely helped me begin thinking early-on about post-grad plans, and how I can achieve those goals I have, but also just reducing stress and understanding that the years after college can be somewhat hectic and crazy for anyone.
Do you feel any anxiety or stress towards your future?
I think it depends on your major whether it hits you now or later. Those in Economics are finishing their interviews and applications, while those in Anthropology are still waiting for applications to open. I’ve been going through waves of feeling fine and then feeling really stressed. A lot of it comes with having ideas that are really good but realizing a flaw in that idea. You then have to find a way to resolve that flaw but even then another one comes up later.
How do you cope or manage your stress?
I talk a lot to my friends, family, and people in the Career Center about my plans, maybe too much… I think overall it’s really helpful to hear a lot of different perspectives. The advice I get from my mom, the Career Center, and my housemates is all totally different but valuable.
Advice for underclassmen?
You don’t necessarily need to choose the career or job that you want for the rest of your life. There is room for flexibility when you’re graduating from college. It doesn’t hurt to start early-on exploring your interests and just yourself in general. That’s the hardest part about making these future plans. Finding opportunities that you want to pursue because they’re a good fit for you.
Morgan Mulhern is a senior Anthropology major. She is grateful for the relaxed attitude at CC when thinking about her future.
What are your post-graduation plans?
I guess for all of my life I haven’t had any really stringent plans, I just go with the flow and see what comes up and it has worked out so far. Next year, I know that I want to get a Master’s in Public Health, so I’ll probably do some sort of Public Health fellowship or research for a few years and then take it from there.
Is CC a place where “go with the flow” thrives or dies?
CC does support that in a positive way. It’s not that I’m not stressed about what I’m going to do in the future, but that I’m so interested and well equipped to do many things, so I’d rather not be stressed to choose a specific thing.
Are you feeling any stress toward your post-graduation plans and how are you coping with it?
As the months progress, I can definitely feel the anxiety building. I just practice daily acts of self-care like going on a walk, reading a book, avoiding technology, getting a good night’s sleep, going on a hike, or enjoying a good Block Break trip.
Audrey Wang is a Molecular Cellular Biology major and Chemistry minor. She will graduate at the end of 2016. Personal relationships were a major deciding factor for her.
What are your post-graduation plans?
No plans yet, but I know I want to do a Master’s immediately. I’m trying to find a job in Copenhagen and no one wants to hire me over there. I mean why would they hire someone who can’t speak Danish? I’m trying my best. I have the semester off where I’m going to find a job and do something in the real world, then go on to get my Master’s.
Woah, why Copenhagen?
My boyfriend. He’s from there. I’m literally so stressed about this, but I’m graduating a semester early so I can give myself some leeway in what I want to do with that semester because I worked hard to earn that time off.
How do you cope when you are stressed about your plans?
When I’m really stressed I like to talk it out with my friends because that helps me a lot and I can vent about the stuff I’m stressed about. Or, if I’m very stressed or under very special circumstances, I’ll call my mom.
Are you more scared or excited for your future outside of CC?
I am definitely excited but before when I laid out this plan, it wasn’t scary, it was just a plan for my future. Now that it’s actually here I tell myself, “fuck, I actually have to do this” and so that makes it a little stressful and it is a big weight on my shoulders.
This is your last semester. What will you miss the most about CC?
At first I was so ready to go, but I don’t know if it’s the weather or fall but this place is just so pretty.
Any advice you would like to give underclassmen?
Don’t try to make [post-graduation plans] so much as an end goal and try to enjoy your time here right now and see where it takes you. You don’t have to have everything planned out. I would love to even hear that advice myself.
Although seniors may feel compelled to hide their anxiety regarding the uncertain future, there are a multitude of resources on campus to help with just that sort of thing. The Wellness Resource Center, the Career Center, and Boettcher Counseling are all proficient in assisting with such matters. Seniors, I implore you to breathe, you have the rest of your life ahead of you, and that is something worth getting excited about.