Your final thesis is polished and ready for submission, the on-campus career advisor seems optimistic about your future, and your family is cheering loudly as you are approaching the finishing line of your college marathon.
There is only one person who doesn't seem excited about your upcoming graduation, and that is you.
There is something scary about breaking away from college.
A lot of people will tell you that student years were the best times of their lives, and who wants to leave the best times behind? You most certainly don't.
And yet, you feel the fun is coming to an end. The parties are over. Your friends are going away.
Your student ID is expiring. You feel you're getting old.
Here are a few things I want you to think about when it seems that the world is crashing on you.
1. You don't have to stick to the standard path.
You might feel like the only choice is to start a 9-to-5 office job.
The truth is, however, you always have choices.
Just because a lot of adults you know ended up having mundane, unfulfilling lives doesn't mean you have to follow their steps.
Just because someone else has expectations of you doesn't mean you have to fulfill them.
You are the author of your life. You are the one making choices. You are free to make choices that will make you happy.
And those are exactly the choices you should make.
2. Making money feels much more beautiful than growing a loan.
Earning a living is not be the easiest thing in the world, but you will feel much better knowing you are actually getting an income, instead of accumulating debts.
Think about how many classes in college you had to attend just to get credit. Think of all the useless information you had to cram into your head just to pass some test.
A lot of times, you had to do things you didn't feel like doing and pay the college hundreds of dollars for having the opportunity to do them.
Graduating doesn't mean that you will never have to do anything you dislike again, but it means that in a lot of cases you will be compensated for your time.
3. You are never too old to enjoy yourself.
If you think that all the fun in life is going to be over just because there will be no fraternities to host parties for you, think again.
I have seen tons of adults get together and enjoy themselves so much they made me jealous.
I also have seen tons of adults get together and have most boring and depressing conversations while getting drunk silly.
Age and location have nothing to do with how much fun you can have. You and your mindset are the only things that can ever stop you from having the time of your life.
4. You will finally get a chance to do real things.
When I was in college, I often felt frustrated about how useless a lot of things seemed.
As a student, you have to write hundreds of pages that, most likely, no one except for your professors will ever read. You have to conduct research that is put to no practical use and learn information that you will most likely forget in a couple of months. Sometimes you develop great skills working on such tasks, but other times, you feel you could have put your time to a better use.
When you step out of the college bubble into the real world, you can finally work on the things that matter to you.
You can analyze the data and can help enhance road infrastructure in your community. You can write project proposals that will result in improved healthcare for children of poverty-stricken countries. You can develop business models that actually bring you profit and not just good grades in class.
Yes, sometimes working on something big might get just as frustrating or stressful as finishing an academic paper, but in the end you will know that you are making a real difference in the real world.
5. You can always go back to college.
If you feel you love college so much you can't live without it, guess what: you can always come back.
Master's, PhD, MBA and lifelong education programs are always there for you.
You can always start on another academic journey. You can go to a different college in a different country.
Chances are high, however, that after trying life after college, you might never want to go back.
Just as there is life after marriage, life after kids and life after retirement, there is life after college.
It might be very different from the years you have spent on campus, but “different” doesn't need to be “bad”. Graduation only means that you are entering a new stage of your life. It is up to you what to make out of this change.