University days are often considered to be the best years of your life, and current students are warned from their very first day that they must ‘enjoy it whilst it lasts’. Three years of new friendships, jagerbombs and late night, red bull-induced study sessions pass by in the blink of an eye, and before you know it, you’re standing in a line of smiling students clenching at a certificate representing the momentous achievement of attaining a degree. So what happens when the mortarboard drops? When these glory days are over? There comes a stark, cold and often bitter realisation that these supposed ‘best years of your life’ are now over.
The days after graduation are a strange transition phase from student life to reality. And often this lifestyle change comes with a little bit more than a bump. Statistics show that 1 out of every 4 university students suffers from some form of mental illness, including depression throughout their studies but no studies recognise the numbers of post university depression. It appears that not enough is being done to support those going from the (seemingly unnatural) transition from independent student life to moving back home into the care of Mum and Dad. To many, it feels like taking a huge step backwards where they have become dependent once again. When it seems as though all your friends have internships lined up with huge international companies, and the rest of them are trekking with Llamas in Peru, it may begin to panic you that the only plan you have for after university involves the latest that Netflix has to offer and your two faithful friends, Ben and Jerry.
Post University blues are best described as the morning after a huge house party, you have the fond memories of the night before to reminisce and giggle over, but the cold stark reality that there is a huge cleaning up job to be done is looming. It can be an enormous pressure, and most students relate to this overwhelming sense of expectation. The Independent conducted a study into forty students last year, which found that 95% of students understood Post University blues to be a real thing, whilst a further 87% believed there should be more exposure on it.
In order to combat post University blues, two things need to be done. Firstly we need to start addressing that it exists. We need to start talking about it. Most students are in the same boat after they graduate after all. For those who think they are suffering from depression, they should seek counseling by contacting the NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service in their area.
Secondly, we need to eliminate the impression that we need to have our lives together by the tender age of 21. We do not need a succinct ten-year plan ready to implement by the time we graduate. If you haven’t taken a gap year, students have been in fulltime education for seventeen years. You deserve a break! Travel, see the world, live somewhere new, visit family on the other side of the world. If you have supportive parents, move home and live with them whilst you work out your next step. Read; take up a hobby and most importantly, TAKE YOUR TIME. The months after graduation are not a race. Recent statistics from the New College of the Humanities found that 19 out of 20 graduates had switched jobs within three years, so there’s no need to jump into the first underpaid graduate scheme you can find.
Your twenties are your selfish years. It’s the decade where you are free from marital and family responsibilities, a mortgage and the incessant dog that needs walking back at home. Whilst these years are chaotic, wild and unpredictable, they are also limited. Rather than fear the unknown, we should try as much as we can to embrace this freedom- the realm of possibility.