My last year of university was very different from my last year of high school.
Firstly, my last year of university was completed entirely online due to the COVID pandemic. Following my last high school exam, my friends and I ran to the nearest McDonalds and got 3 McFlurries each to celebrate. Call us lame, but we stayed there until 11pm, talking about what we were excited for. Following my last university exam, I closed my laptop, walked 3 steps from my desk to my bed. I probably took a nap after - I don’t remember.
As crappy as it was to finish university online, that wasn’t the most overwhelming part. I think the part that shocked me the most from graduating university was realizing, this is it, you are done. And this applies to all university graduates - whether or not they completed their last year online or not.
After high school, most students have a clear path of what they’ll do next. Whether that’s university or college, a gap year spent working, a victory lap year… everyone knows where they’re going. There was a sense of security. There was a sense of simply going through the motions of the next chapter.
However, graduating from university is different because no one knows what they are doing. Even the people who are going directly into another graduate or professional program, and even the people who have landed a full-time job immediately after graduating. Once you’re done with your undergrad, you lose that sense of knowing what comes next. That sense of security is gone. It’s all on you now, because this is where the “set path” ends. School won’t tell you what courses to take next. Your parents won’t tell you what to do next. Your life as a “student”, and everything that comes with it, is over now.
Sometimes I think about the hundreds of possible paths I can take next. Where should I live? Where should I find a job? What school should I go to? What career should I pursue now? I think that is terrifying.
But I also think it’s extremely beautiful. As overwhelming and as scary as it is, it is also freeing. Now that I’ve graduated and have my degree, I could spend a few years out West like I’ve always wanted. Find a job out there and spend my spare time in the mountains. I could go pursue a number of degrees I genuinely see myself doing - psychology, occupational therapy, law. I could move back in with my parents, whom I haven’t lived with long-term since high school. I could apply to a job in my university town, and continue being involved in the many communities that have grown close to my heart throughout my undergrad.
The choices after you graduate are endless. We get to go out and write our own paths. So let’s embrace that terrifying excitement, and go write our futures.