Finishing education is a milestone. They are built up in society as something to be proud of; “look at all you have achieved!”. But no one talks about the in-between, the post education slump. Its brushed under the rug and disregarded because no one wants to tell you about the loneliness that comes after. The uncertainty of what is next isn’t exactly a huge selling point. We are spoon fed throughout education, having every little detail laid out for us from what time your break is to what to write your assignments about, leaving little room for autonomy. And so, it’s no wonder that at the end of every academic year leavers are left feeling…well left.
Feeling abandoned, from a constant flow of structure and pressure to nothingness, millions of young people every year struggle with the daunting pressures of the ‘real world’. In my experience university is great for setting you up for a good grade, but the post-graduation element is severely lacking. When I raised these concerns to my personal tutor, I was quickly put into the hands of the carers team. I’ve found these sessions to be quite biased, so if you don’t want to go into the field, you’re currently studying they aren’t exactly helpful. Not once was I prepared for how to deal with my council tax or how to apply for universal credit. Not once was I told it was okay, I didn’t want to be a teacher and here are other options outside of education I can go into. Was I the only one feeling this way? Did everyone else know how to all of these things already and I was somehow even more unprepared than I once thought?
In my experience that was a big no. I was not the only one. When I plucked up the courage to ask my housemate to help me out, I found that not only was she struggling too but she wanted to ask me for help! The relief (but also the new issue of well who do we ask from here?). So why are millions of us still feeling overwhelmed and underprepared? Is it because the university doesn't see it as their problem or do they not want their league numbers affected by more students waiting to find employment or changing direction entirely? I don’t know, but I do know that if you’re feeling this way you are not alone. Maybe you are sat here reading this thinking ‘Well duh I knew how to do that.’ To that I say I’m so glad, one less of us struggling with this post-education limbo is better than nothing.
So, this is my reassurance to those of us struggling through. You are not alone, you are not a failure for not knowing what is next, or not knowing how to do things that feel so simple. After education should not feel so intimidating. However, the beauty of being on your own now is that you don’t answer to anyone but yourself. As gut wrenching as that may feel right now, it is a blessing. You can try as many things as you like, or only one thing. You can move anywhere in the world or stay right here. Take all the time you need to figure out your next move if you need to, there is nothing wrong with adjusting to your new normal.