Then What?

BY: REBECCA LEONARD

Since the day we step foot into college, even high school, we are told that the goal is to get an education so we can go out and get a great job, meet our other half and live happily ever after. Well in your senior year of college these goals that they told us about start to get a little overwhelming. We go to school, we sit in classes, we go to work or come home, and do homework, and then repeat. Then what?

It’s week two. As I sit in class and my professors start talking about our assignments I can’t help but feel like I’m drowning in a sea of papers already. This feeling just will not go away. I won’t be able to keep up and then I won’t graduate this year. Mom and Dad will be disappointed. Is it that bad? I mean the college itself admits that more than half of the students here don’t graduate on time… My thoughts keep echoing on and on in my head. And then what?

“Are you excited?” I smiled widely and say that I can’t wait. But in a way, that’s a lie. There’s not an ounce of me that wants to fail and postpone the start of the rest of my life. Not at all. I just don’t think I’m really ready. The fear of reality settles on me and I carry it like Atlas holding the world on his shoulders. That’s the real world. I graduate and then what?

The real question is the one that everyone always asks “What are you going to do after?” I have plans for after graduation, but they only extend to the end of summer and they aren’t plans for the rest of my life. They’re plans for a two week vacation to California. I need time away from here. A part of me wonders if I should stay and be searching for jobs. People ask if I’ll move to California. I would be lying if I said it hadn’t crossed my mind. Is there opportunity out there I wouldn’t get here? Do I have a chance? What about home? I’ll leave and then what?

I have dreams that I would love fulfilled. I would love to get that dream job that I’ve been spending thousands of dollars to be able to do, but that takes experience. How do I get the experience? As I scroll through job listings on a fancy job site, I see jobs that have nothing to do with what I want. Nothing that would give me the experience to fulfill my dreams. In 2013 The Atlantic published an article about the job market for students that are new to the “real world.” The article states there’s about 73% of people who are employed right out of college. Sounds encouraging, but who knows if it’s the dream job they went to school for? So I leave my part time job, for a job that isn’t something I want to do and hate it. And then what?

It’s week two. I’m worrying about all of these things in week two! Let’s say I excel in my classes and that faithful day finally comes. I put on my fresh, clean cap and gown and walk up the steps to get my degree. It’s in my hands and I’ve achieved what no one else in my family did. Grinning from ear to ear, I look down––Now what?