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OPINION: It is okay to not have a plan after graduation

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A group of University of Arizona students at their graduation in Arizona Stadium in 2018. Photo credit Chris Richards/University of Arizona Alumni Association.

“What are your plans for after college?” 

This is a question college students get asked time after time at every family gathering, by parents, by friends and professors. This is a really commonly asked question, and it’s a good one. What are my plans?

My answer to this question is always, “I’m not sure yet.”

The transition from college to “the real world” is a scary one, and each day we become closer to this transition. Many individuals don’t have a plan, and that’s okay. Every year I've always said that I'll have it figured out by the time I'm a senior. Senior year has rolled around and here I am feeling just as confused, if not more confused.

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Not everyone knows what their next step is and graduating college is especially scary. We have been students in school for 16 years; we don’t know any life other than this. As the end of first semester continues to approach, the reality of leaving college has begun to set in. 

The adjustment of leaving this life and beginning the next phase is terrifying. Creating a plan for after we leave our little world here on campus is even more terrifying. 

Creating a detailed map of your life and future plans can be difficult. Plans can create more stress because we try to force ourselves to stick with them, even when things get in the way and life switches up on us. More often than not, things don’t turn out the way we plan. 

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Most students start college when they are around 18 years old, and head to college with a dream job and goal in mind. As we grow and continue to take more classes, our plans, goals and passions change.

Changing majors and setting new goals throughout college is common. A survey from the U.S. Department of Education found that about 30% of undergraduate students change their major.

An article by The Washington Post explained that about 27% of individuals who graduate college have a job that is related to their major. This goes to show that a large number of individuals don’t stick to their original plan and things change. 

It’s also important to remember that everyone's paths look different. When we are in college we all are living similar lives and have similar schedules. As we head towards post-graduation life, the next phase looks different for everyone. 

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Instead of stressing about the next phase in life, it’s important to pause for a moment and be proud of our accomplishments and look at how far we have come. Graduating college is an accomplishment to be proud of, and it's something that not everyone does. In the United States, 39% of adults that are over the age of 18 have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. 

It's normal to feel worried and wonder what the future holds. I don’t know what life will be like after I walk across the stage and go from student to alumni this spring 2022, and that’s okay. We don’t have to have it all figured out. 


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Julianna is a senior majoring in journalism and sociology. She enjoys writing and reporting on topics related to mental and physical health and wellness.


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (11/24)
1,344 22 1.6%
Total (8/2)
60,367 957 1.6%
Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated November 24, 2021