The College Experience No One Talks About

PAIGE JOHNSON | THE SPECTRUM
NDSU seniors laugh off the stresses of their impending graduations.

Everyone always talks about the transition from high school to college, which is often defined by a newfound sense of freedom, independence, opportunity and meeting new people. It seems as though there are countless amounts of support groups, self-help articles and unsolicited advice to help transition students from high school to college.

For many undergraduates, the anticipation of graduating has become an impending sense of doom instead of a hopeful last lap before the finish line. If college is meant to be the springboard to the future, why does it feel like a violent projection into an unknown abyss?

Researchers say the answer may lie in the unemployment rate for the millennial generation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 12.6 percent of 18-26 year olds are finding themselves unemployed and drowning in student debt.

Millennials are now more stressed than ever, with uncertainty about employment, finances and the future playing the biggest roles in stress among young adults, according to the American Psychological Association.

For senior Mathias Hennen, who will graduate in December with a degree in mechanical engineering, the pressure to finish school, maintain a part-time job and immediately find a job post-graduation is seemingly insurmountable.

“I want to start somewhere that’s going to progress me further in my career. If I’m not enjoying what I’m doing, it’s almost like why did I choose this path,” Hennen said. “But especially toward the end of my collegiate career, the idea of applying what I’ve learned and actually making an impact – that part is exciting.”

“An education is a learning process,” Hennen explained, “which is great, but you’re not helping further a company or developing something to make someone’s life better.”

Although this excitement exists for many seniors, the stress often seems to override any sense of hopeful anticipation. The pressure to achieve immediate success may partially stem from within, but “it comes at students from every angle these days, even on social media,” Hennen said.

“It’s definitely a place where people flaunt what they have,” Hennen said. “It goes beyond a celebration of someone’s accomplishments to the point where people just flaunt their highlight reels.”

With the help of social media, the world has become smaller, making it easier for millennials to not only compare themselves to one another, but also doubt everything they’ve accomplished thus far.

Beyond the outside pressure, the personal pressure for students to find everything they’re looking for right out of college is difficult to juggle.

Although new graduates eventually have to navigate work-life balance, a social life, finances and the stresses of a new career, Hennen said it’s important to define how you want to live your life and navigate your career from there.

“Sometimes being picky gets a bad reputation,” Hennen said. “A lot of times people think you should go wherever will pay you the most money, or whoever has the biggest company. A lot of times the values you have outside of your career aren’t necessarily held to as high of a standard.”

For more information regarding career advice and tips to transition into the working world, visit the Career Center in the Memorial Union or head to the website for job and internship inquiries.

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