Graduates: Do not panic

Adrian Northrup

With graduation quickly approaching and the uncertain future looming ahead, seniors can find themselves going through a quarter-life crisis.

“The quarter-life crisis, or QLC, is essentially a period of anxiety, uncertainty and inner turmoil that often accompanies the transition to adulthood,” according to Abby Wilner, co-author of Quarter-life Crisis and Quarter-lifer’s Companion.

It is a time of panic when one realizes this is indeed the real deal. This period of adult growth is probably the scariest transition a person has to make. As far back as most of us can remember, we have been students. From the first day of kindergarten to the day of graduation, school has always been there to shield us from actual adulthood.

College does make it easier for students to ease their way into the real world. It is not just a place to get a degree. It is a place to make lasting friendships. It is a place to push boundaries away from the watchful eyes of the parents. It is a place to experience new things and test the waters of independence.

But somewhere between the dorms and Water Street we also got an education – an education that we count on to get a job. It may have taken one or two changes in majors, a couple extra semesters and far too many hours spent toiling over homework completely unrelated to your major. But now time is up, school’s out and the world awaits. And that is scary as hell.

That’s when the panic starts. How do I know I chose the right major? What if I was really meant to be a marine biologist? And now it’s too late. What if I never get a job? What if I hate my job?

The panic deepens. Where am I going to live? Will I stay in touch with my friends from college? Will I get married? Will I be forced to live in my parents’ basement until I’m 40?

You’re nearing a mental breakdown. How am I going to pay back my loans? What will I do for health insurance? How will I pay rent?

Well, be comforted in the fact that at least you’re not alone. Even the most composed, successful graduate has some feelings of doubt and insecurity. An April 21, 2005, ABC News article listed some startling facts for college graduates. In the article entitled “Quarter-life crisis hits many in late 20s,” it says that half of all students graduate with college debt averaging $12,000 and nearly two-thirds of young adults in their early 20s receive economic support from their parents, while 40 percent still receive assistance in their late 20s.

And if you’re worried that you’ll be stuck in the same job for the next 50 years with no hope for a change, think again. According to the U.S. Census, the average American aged 18 to 30 years has held seven to eight different jobs. Also you won’t be the only one begging mom and dad to let you have your old room back for a while after graduation. According to the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, 56.8 percent of men and 43.2 percent of women 22 to 31 years old lived at home with their parents or planned to move back home after graduation in 2002.

So why does it seem that our generation has it so much harder than our parents did? With increased enrollment in colleges across the nation a college education can’t guarantee the financial success it once did. Students need more than just a degree to get ahead in this world. We also expect more from our jobs and ourselves. We expect our education to land us a well-paying career that we enjoy. But with today’s economy, the booming number of jobless college grads, and the startling statistics we see that this is obviously not the case.

It’s a scary world out there; one that seems to be getting harder and harder to conquer. But remember that everyone is facing the same fears. So take a deep breath, hold your head high, accept that diploma and face it head on.

Norgon is a senior print journalism and Spanish double major and managing editor of The Spectator.