The transition from university life to the work environment can be a rough one. Not only is there an inevitable letdown after all the pomp and celebration of commencement, the former student is then thrust immediately into the adult world, with all its inherent stress. In fact, the UK’s City Mental Health Alliance reports that more than half of all graduating seniors experience feelings of depression in the first year. Why is that, and why does the problem remain largely unnoticed?
Elder pressure undoubtedly play a huge role. These young adults have just been given the opportunity to earn a college degree, something that many of their elders weren’t able to consider. Young people, in general, often face backlash if they admit to feeling anxious or depressed, as if their youth alone should be enough to counteract these emotions. The truth of the matter is, it can be frightening to leave behind the familiar enclave of the school environment–where many of these students have spent at least sixteen years–and reconcile their long-held goals with life in the “real world.”
Financial worries, too, can be a concern, and often for the first time. Aside from the everyday bills and expenses that most traditional students don’t need to concern themselves with, it’s likely that they’re also saddled with a sizable amount of student debt. Entry-level jobs–even the ones available to university graduates–often don’t pay well enough to make the investment seem worth it, and this can be immensely discouraging at first.
There’s also the matter of peer pressure, an increasingly fraught issue in the age of social media, with the millennial generation being constantly bombarded by notifications from friends and loved ones who all seem to have better lives than they do–at least in their perception. As many as 40 percent of recent graduates report feeling socially isolated, and a slightly higher percentage claim that their friends seem to be doing better than they are. These perceptions can be difficult to escape unless they shut themselves off entirely, which is obviously not the right solution.
So what is the solution? The answer is not one-size-fits-all, but new graduates might try reaching out to acquaintances of the same age–perhaps someone they’ve just recently met–to talk things out. They should also remind themselves that while life’s changes can be difficult, they can often bring about great rewards in the long run.