Ready or Not: Preparing for Graduation

by Michelle Bonja '12

With the days left to graduation dwindling, seniors are busy with last-minute papers, final exams, and capstone projects—all the while pondering significant post-college plans, from housing and jobs to family and graduate school. Amid the anxiety that sometimes accompanies major transitions, campus leaders say there are a number of ways to mentally prepare for graduation.

“Seniors often feel an existential weight of having to decide how they are going to spend the rest of their lives, and fear of making a wrong decision can be paralyzing,” said Associate Campus Pastor for Community Care Chris Adams.

The conclusion of the college experience alone can be jarring, leaving graduates with a sense of nostalgia, he said.

“I would encourage seniors who have loved APU to anticipate a season of grief, yet to remember that God will be with you as you process the losses,” said Adams.

Recent graduate Sarah Guinta ’11 recalled the hectic nature of her last few months of school leading up to commencement.

Immediately after graduation, Guinta took a short vacation, which she said was a helpful way to unwind before diving in the next phase of life and an intensive job hunt.

“The best thing I did for myself was to remain calm—not stress out,” she said. “And of course, lots of prayer from friends and family helped. God will never give us more than we can handle.”

For graduates entering a career field, Guinta suggests planning ahead and easing into the job search as early as possible. Soon-to-be graduates can ask a marketing professor to review their résumés, she said, and make a complete list of references with contact information. Having those items in hand—ahead of graduation—can allay anxieties and make for a smooth transition.

Other campus resources also exist to help seniors prepare practically for what’s next, said Lynn Pearson. In her role as director of the Office of Career Services, Pearson connects students with counselors who review strategies and tools for job searching. The office also provides mock interview setups through the APU Career Network.

“We also highly recommend a LinkedIn page,” said Pearson. “More and more information is coming out about LinkedIn as a job-search board. It’s a great way to professionally network.”

Aside from the planning and processing of logistics, Adams said he assures stressed-out seniors with a reminder to trust in God’s plan.

“Even if we take a turn away from a path on which God is leading us, He is fully capable of re-calibrating the directions and still directing us toward where we need to go,” said Adams. “Graduation is an ending, but also the beginning of a new chapter in a lifelong process.”