Student Life Editor
The countdown has begun; graduation is just around the corner. May 5, 2012 will be the day that the senior class will be able to put what they learned in the classroom and apply it to the real world. However, the daunting task of finding a job and paying off student loans will present itself the moment the graduating class receives their diplomas, but the Academic and Career Advising and the Counseling Center’s Managing Life After Graduation program is a useful tool for seniors to utilize to help them with the struggles of finding a job and paying off student loans.
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Kelly Graham, the associate director of Academic and Career Advising, said, “I think for many students this is brand new and anytime we are doing something new, we don’t always know how to begin. One of the nice things that we do here in Academic and Career Advising is we give students a place to begin and then we give them steps that they can take so it does not seem like an overwhelming process.”
Managing Life After Graduation is a program that is designed to help students with the adventure that begins the moment they graduate. Each week a new topic is discussed in order to offer guidance to seniors who are struggling with making connections in a new community, finding a job, and paying back student loans. “Some of the big pieces are really how do I even start this next part of my life? How do I conduct an effective job search?” Graham said.
But, Graham assures that the earlier students begin the next chapter in their life, the easier their transition will be. “You can start working on gathering information or making decisions or putting together pieces for a job search,” she said.
This is the first year that the Academic and Career Advising and the Counseling Center have teamed up to host the Managing Life After Graduation program. Graham said that through this program she hopes to identify what the main stressors are when it comes to graduating and how to tackle them. Joseph Yazvac, a counselor at the Counseling Center, said “Just about every year we see more seniors present anxiety about graduation.”
These feelings of anxiety are derived from the fear of developing new identities and moving to new areas, Yazvac said. “Let’s get some resources so that you can really start to tackle what it is that’s worrying you. So if it has to do with loans, student loans, we’re going to have someone come in to talk about what happens if I don’t have a job when I need to pay back my student loans,” Graham said. According to a report by the Project on Student Debt, New Hampshire college students will graduate with the highest average of debt in the country. The New Hampshire class of 2010 graduated with an average sum of debt of $31,048, according to the Project on Student Debt report. New Hampshire also has the highest tuition at the state’s public universities, an average of $23,000 per year, according to the report. As a result, the idea of paying back students loans is one that has seniors stressed.
Each year, the Academic and Career Advising Center sees seniors who are stressed about transitioning into the real world. As a result, the Academic and Career Advising Center realized that Keene State College needed to focus on the seniors who are graduating just as much as they do on the first-year students, Graham said. Yazvac said that the seniors, who prepare earlier, will more likely avoid missing deadlines and as a result there will have a decrease in their anxiety. In addition to the Managing Life After Graduation program, the Counseling Center is offering a five-week program that will be more focused on support and the emotional health issues related to graduating, Yazvac said.
“College becomes home,” Yazvac said. As a result, this transition will provoke feelings of anxiety, Yazvac said. But the Managing Life After Graduation program is a tool that will help ease this transition. “Our hope for each week is that we provide students with resources, they utilize those resources so they can make the best decisions possible, which then helps ease the transition,” Graham said. However, Graham said it is important to remember that the first job that graduates will land outside of college will not be their last.
“What I want students to remember is that their first job is not their last job. So you may not come out and land your ideal job, but remember that your career is a journey and you start in one place and you eventually end up where you want to be,” Graham said.
Sam Norton can be contacted at email@example.com