By Megan Brown
This academic year has officially come to an end. Although it ended in a different way, and the world is a little different than we all expected, our seniors have officially finished their degrees at UMW. We are very excited to see all of our recent graduates and their families come October when we will be having our commencement ceremony, but until then, there is still an adjustment period to come.
Whether your grad is moving back home or moving out “for good”, the end of college marks the end of a chapter in the story, and the beginning of the new. This means, it will be an adjustment period for everyone right now. That being said, we have put together some tips for parents and grads for life post-graduation.
- Your grad will want more independence, but still need your guidance: although their life is their own journey, your grad will still need support and have questions for you about “the real world”. Whether that is how to file taxes properly or what retirement plan to pick at their first job, they will rely on you for advice and guidance.
- Time Management: Without the structure of school, your grad may struggle with time management and what to do with their newly founded “free time”. Especially with the current state of the world, they may feel stuck and as if they no longer have things to do to fill their time. Providing resources and things that you know they enjoy may be helpful. But beware of the conflict that comes with identifying passions and items that just keep them busy. It’s a new conflict that has to be navigated carefully.
- Giving them a gentle push: In some cases, it’s important to give them a gentle push. Whether that means for financial independence, to apply for jobs, or to continue their education, it is sometimes easy for grads to lose motivation for a period of time. Help them along by supporting them and providing resources so they can be successful.
- It’s okay to be sad it’s over: this year did not go as planned. Grads may be feeling as if they did not get the closure they needed or deserved to truly move on to the next chapter. Although, hopefully that closure will come in October when they cross that stage, it is going to impact them now. It is okay for them to mourn the end of college, and be sad that it has come to an abrupt end.
- It’s okay to not have life planned out: if they don’t know for sure where they want to be in five years, that’s okay. It’s okay if their vision changes, in fact it’s normal. Remind them to take a deep breath and know that at the end of the day, they are still young adults with their whole life ahead of them. It’s okay if things don’t go the way you planned as well. Remember mistakes and failures are a part of life.
- Keep doing what they love and get involved in their community: Whether they are moving to a new city alone, or are staying in the area they grew up in, it is important for them to get involved. After leaving college, where there are several clubs to join and events to attend, it may be hard for people who are leaving college to feel connected to their community. Help them to identify passion areas (music, sports, painting, etc.) and find opportunities to connect with others and continue doing what they love. This is also a great way to make friends outside of college.
- Don’t forget student loans: after leaving college, loans go into a six-month grace period. Grads can start paying during that time or start when the six months are up. It may be helpful to do research together to see which one would be best for the financial situation your grad is about to be in.
- Maintain a budget: keeping track of a budget is very important. Financial wellbeing is so important, and keeping track of income and spending on an Excel sheet or a physical notebook can help your grad become financially literate. It also helps them see where they spend the most money and how to cut expenses, if needed.
- Having a hard time finding a job or not liking their new job is not unheard of: finding a job, any job, in this economy is absolutely necessary and regardless of the pandemic, grads may find that they cannot find a job, or once they do find a job based on their degree, they don’t like it. That’s a tough mental situation for grads and parents alike. Grant grace to your grad, and yourself.
- Don’t forget UMW: although no longer a student, it is important to remember that UMW is still here for you. Resources like the Career Center are open for alumni to utilize and can really help you start that next chapter!
- Remember, it’s their journey: people can help along the way, but remember at the end of the day it is your grad’s life journey and they have control of their choices.
So, congratulations to the class of 2020! See you in October!