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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

McKissick: It’s OK to not have a 5-year plan post-graduation

Colorado+State+University+graduates+line+up+for+the+precession+into+Moby+Arena+before+their+graduation+ceremony+begins.+CSU+held+the+graduation+ceremony+for+the+College+of+Agricultural+Sciences+on+May+12%2C+2018+at+Moby+Arena.++%28Forrest+Czarnecki+%7C+The+Collegian%29

Collegian | Forrest Czarnecki

Colorado State University graduates line up for the precession into Moby Arena before their graduation ceremony begins. CSU held the graduation ceremony for the College of Agricultural Sciences on May 12, 2018 at Moby Arena. (Forrest Czarnecki | The Collegian)

Nathaniel McKissick, Collegian Columnist

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Graduation can be a fun, scary and exciting time. Some students have their first job in the workforce lined up before the day of commencement rolls around, while others are absolutely uncertain of what comes next.

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Maybe you’re one of those people who live by their five-year plan. Maybe you’ve planned for this moment for years, and you know exactly what comes next for you, how you’re going to get it and what it’ll lead to.

Or maybe you have no such plan, and your options loom before you with uncertainty. So what’s next? Leaving undergrad, you’re faced with a couple of paths to go down.

“If you’re interviewing and haven’t secured a job for when you graduate, it doesn’t mean you’re worthless or undesirable to employers.”

First off, there’s the option to continue down the path of education that most have been on for years now and take a shot at graduate school.

But that’s a large undertaking. Not only is graduate school financially taxing — with it averaging between $30,000 and $40,000 annually depending on whether you attend a public or private institution — but it can also be emotionally and mentally draining as well. Mental health disorders are more likely among graduate students compared to average Americans, according to a Harvard University study.

With the mental and financial costs, it’s definitely worth doing some research on whether the field you want to enter (if you know which one) requires education beyond a bachelor’s degree. In some professions, earning a graduate degree can be quite lucrative, but for others, not so much.

Alternatively, if you know someone who attended graduate school and you are considering pursuing further higher education, you could talk to them and get their perspective on whether or not they believe it was worth it.

Some may elect to take some time off after graduation to travel or simply just hit pause after being in school for so many years. A gap year can provide time to set goals or map out a career plan. However, this naturally isn’t an option for everybody.

Lastly, the other option is joining the workforce immediately. This can be incredibly overwhelming, nerve-wracking and just downright scary.

“The more experiences you can get early in your career, the better you will be at identifying an ideal position for yourself.” –Ella Bowers, academic success coordinator.

If you’re interviewing and haven’t secured a job for when you graduate, it doesn’t mean you’re worthless or undesirable to employers. A position will come along, and with how hot the job market is right now, it likely won’t take long.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2022 reported employers plan to hire 26.6% more college graduates in 2022 than they did the year prior.

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Ella Bowers, an academic success coordinator for Colorado State University’s communication studies and journalism departments, suggested students confer with CSU’s Career Center before leaving for advice on how to move forward.

“Students can get help with their resumes, practice interviewing and discuss industries that align with their skills and goals,” she said, also emphasizing the value in learning what you don’t want to do as well as what you do.

“The more experiences you can get early in your career, the better you will be at identifying an ideal position for yourself,” Bowers said.

This is an uncertain time for a lot of people, and navigating the world of the workforce post-graduation can be scary, especially with the newly added factor of COVID-19.

Regardless of what comes next, though, whether it be graduate school, a gap year or a running leap straight into the workforce, it’s perfectly OK to take it one step at a time. It’s normal to be uncertain of the future at times of big changes (like graduation).

One thing is for certain, though: No matter where CSU’s class of 2022 ends up, there’s no doubt they will do great things.

Reach Nathaniel McKissick at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @NateMcKissick.

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