With May fast-approaching, the reality of “life after college” is becoming all too real for Keene State College seniors. While the idea of an unknown future can be daunting, students are coming to terms with what they want to do and how to achieve those goals.
Three KSC students and one alumnus spoke with The Equinox on how they decided their postgraduate plans. As a first-year in 2014, KSC junior Emma Nelson said she was positive that she would transfer to the University of Massachusetts Lowell and get a degree in audio engineering. The end game for her was making and recording music.
“Plans changed, and so did my passions,” Nelson explained. “Now, I’m planning on pursuing a master’s degree in conducting after getting my degree in music education.”
Nelson is currently enrolled in a conducting class taught by Dr. Chesebrough—a class that really piqued her interested and helped solidify her post-graduate plans. While she was committed to some sort of musical degree from her first year, some students make a much more drastic change of plans.
KSC senior Sara Hickey started her undergraduate degree as an elementary education major. “I wanted more than anything else to become a special education teacher and had planned on doing the one year graduate program at Keene State, post-undergraduate,” Hickey explained. “As I started to gain experience in the classroom, I noticed I was more interested in the student’s behavior, and not as much in the teaching. I fell in love with my second degree, psychology, and I entered into junior year changing my major into psychology with a minor in substance abuse.”
Now, with months until she receives her diploma, Hickey has decided to further her education and obtain a master’s degree in social work after graduating from KSC. “This degree will allow me to work with various populations with a focus on systematic social justice considerations,” Hickey said.
Hickey added that the key to creating a post-graduate plan is not to stress about it.
“Although it may seem like it’s important to have a plan, plans generally have a way of not working out the way we want them to,” Hickey said. “The most important thing is to be open-minded and embrace new interests.”
KSC senior Emma Lucier originally planned on graduating from college at the age of 22 and going straight into medical school to become a doctor.
“I was dead-set on being a doctor from ninth grade on. I thought that was exactly what my life would look like,” Lucier said, adding that those plans changed bit by bit with every college course she took.
“I went to a community college for my first two years of college. The more psychology classes I took, the more I realized that I didn’t really want to be a medical doctor,” Lucier said. “I wanted to have a career that I could work one-on-one with people and actually get to know them.”
After graduating from community college in 2011, Lucier took a few years off to travel and work. In 2015, she started her bachelor’s degree at KSC. “My plans have definitely changed from being a [first year] to now. I realized that I have to pursue a career in something that I love,” Lucier said.
Now, as a 26-year-old KSC senior, Lucier wants to pursue a career in the psychology field and plans on starting her master’s degree next fall. She stressed that it’s okay to change plans. “The career you wanted in high school might not be the right career for you now. Give yourself the freedom to explore what you are passionate about.”
Andrew Bosco graduated from KSC in 2015 with a bachelor’s of science in biology and a bachelor’s of science in secondary education. Now, almost two years post-graduate, he is employed by Lonza Biologics in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he makes artificial pharmaceutical ingredients. Recently, he began coaching high school lacrosse as well.
Bosco said that his original postgraduate plan changed during his senior year at KSC, when he realized he didn’t want to teach for the rest of his life.
“I had an epiphany that teaching science without direct application [and] connections is incredibly difficult to relay to students. Therefore, I wanted to have some exposure to ‘real’ science. I know one day that I will return to the classroom as a teacher, but for now, I want to build myself first,” Bosco said.
The key to navigating life after college for Bosco was to make little goals and focus on those. The bigger plans, he said, would fall into place after.
“You never really know what you want to do after you graduate. I still don’t entirely know what I want to ‘do.’ Nevertheless, I had goals to achieve. I decided on what I would do for a few years after I graduated based on those short-term goals,” Bosco said. “One of my main short-term goals was to achieve financial independence from my parents, which is now achieved. Working at Lonza and coaching fell into place by simply putting myself out there. I spent hours on my Lonza application and applying critiques I learned from the ASPIRE team on how to apply for jobs.”
Bosco stressed the importance of setting goals and trying to meet them. “It’s a good way to keep yourself in check.”
In addition to that, Bosco offered advice for KSC students stressing about their futures—advice that he is trying to follow himself.
“Do what you love, love what you do. We are all so caught up with earning money that we forget to live. If you do what you love and are happy doing it, then the money will come. Do not be 65 years old with a high paying job, but you live with no purpose. Be happy.”
Jill Giambruno can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org