This is the ninth post in my ‘What happens when…’ series. This series is running every Wednesday on Inside Laura’s Head for as long as I have posts. The series will be written by me, and also by guest posters. Posts can be on anything as long as they fit the ‘What happens when…’ title. If you have an idea and would like to guest post on Inside Laura’s Head, you can e-mail me at email@example.com – all ideas are welcomed. Look out for more ‘What happens when…’ posts from lots of different writers.
Meet this week’s Guest Poster!
Lorna is the blogger behind The Writing Greyhound. She is a 21 year old author, blogger, freelance writer/editor and Creative & Professional Writing graduate. She currently lives in my hometown of Kettering, Northamptonshire, though you’re just as likely to find her in London or Kent. When she’s not busy writing, you’ll find her at a concert or with my nose in a book. She’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest too. Do head over and check her out-once you’ve read this post, of course!
What happens when… you leave University?
Leaving university can be a scary thing. You’re leaving education for (probably) the first time in your life and entering the ‘real’ world. Leaving university is a different experience for everyone. Some people are happy to leave it behind and get on with their lives, while others will find it hard to adjust to life outside of the lecture hall.
Those who find education harder to leave behind often experience emotions that fit the model of the 5 stages of grief. Although it was obviously created for a different purpose, the stages can definitely be applied to this situation too.
First comes denial.
“I’m not leaving.”
Then comes anger.
“Why do I have to leave?”
Next is bargaining.
“Let me retake and I promise I’ll do better and leave next year!”
“It doesn’t matter anyway.”
Then, at last, acceptance.
“I’m ready to move on.”
Despite this, I can almost guarantee that at some point during the process of leaving university you will feel lost and confused. At first, the majority of graduates feel unsure of what to do next and will worry about where their life is headed.
But just remember, these feelings are only natural. After all, you’ve spent most of your life in education, and now you have to find your own way in the world (unless you’re going on to do another qualification, which is an entirely different kettle of fish!)
So I’ll tell you now, unless you’re incredibly lucky things aren’t going to be easy for a bit.
After university you’ll have to move back home, away from the place you’ve called home for three or more years. You’ll also lose a degree of independence – it can feel like you’re regressing instead of moving forwards in life. Although you’ll have a lot less freedom (there’ll be no more getting in at 3am and sitting in the living room with your housemates eating leftover prawn crackers till dawn) it can also be a good thing.
You’ll also have to leave behind housemates, friends, maybe even a partner that you’ve met during your time at university. It can be hard saying goodbye and not knowing when you’ll see them again due to geographical and financial issues. (And don’t even get me started on long-distance relationships!) But the good thing is that you’ll be closer to your friends and family back home again. If you’re feeling lonely away from your university family, try and arrange to meet up with some of your old school friends.
It can also be difficult if you have younger siblings or family members who are just starting their university journey. Jealousy is common, but whatever you do don’t crowd them or bombard them with every last detail of what happened during your own fresher’s week. Wish them luck and let them figure it out themselves, the same way you did. Trust me, they’ll appreciate that a lot more.
Instead, you should be focusing on yourself. The most important thing is to figure out what your next step is. Ideally you should do this before you actually graduate, because if you want to apply for a masters or a graduate scheme you don’t want to miss the deadlines!
If you don’t know what you want to do, I suggest sitting down somewhere quiet with no distractions and making a list. Include everything you’ve realistically thought about doing, the pros and cons of each, then the best approach to achieve each goal. Then you can break it down into more manageable chunks, which will make it seem like less of a big and scary thing and will make it easier for you to decide.
One thing I will say – if you have a part-time job already; that will probably be your lifesaver. Otherwise, when your student loan expires you won’t have any money until you get a job, which could take months depending how choosy you are. So if you’re still at university, I’d advise you to get a part-time job if you can because it’s sure to help in the long run.
All in all, leaving university is not an easy thing to do. As it’s a completely different experience for everyone, it’s difficult to offer more specific advice – chances are you’ll just end up muddling through like the rest of us! But regardless, I hope you’ve gained at least something useful from this article. After all, wisdom shared is wisdom learned, and all that.
Thanks for this post Lorna. I never went to Uni myself but can relate to parts of this from when I left sixth form-although I was lucky enough to move straight into temping work until I decided what I wanted to do. I wish you the best of luck deciding on your future career path, lovely.
Have you left University yet? Do you have anything to add to this?