The Reality Of Life After University
The Reality Of Life After University
1 October, 2015You’d probably be hard-pressed to find a recent graduate that doesn't say they miss their university life: The freedom, the parties, the close friends living just next door… However, for a proportion of graduates every year, the situation is an awful lot worse than heavy-hearted nostalgia.
Post-university depression is a very real concern, which affects a proportion of graduates every year, though official statistics are impossible to come by. Perhaps this lack of knowledge is part of the problem – once students leave university, they somehow slip under the radar. Given the potential severity of this problem, we believe that more should be done to track the well-being of recent graduates.
Post-university depression manifests itself much like other forms of this mental illness, with sufferers often feeling ‘tired, restless or agitated, losing interest in life... having difficulty sleeping and losing self-confidence’. If you left university recently and are suffering with any of these symptoms, you are certainly not alone. So why exactly are graduates susceptible to these problems?
Well, the first reason could be from coping with such a dramatic change in lifestyle once the university days are over. Many graduates end up returning to their parents’ homes and feeling like all that independence and freedom they had developed at university is suddenly snatched away again. What’s more, it’s easy for graduates to start to feel very lonely when returning to their hometown. Whilst at university, your closest friends are often just a short stroll away (and some of them might even be your flatmates!) so living a 2 hour train journey from your best friend can feel quite isolating.
Next up, we have the sudden lack of structure. Sure, university gives you loads of freedom to pursue hobbies and interests and do lots of socialising, but it’s also pretty regimented. You attend the same lectures week-in-week-out, you hand in essays at set times, you probably even attend the same club nights every week. Once you leave university and the job hunt begins, there are whole days or even weeks stretching out ahead of you with no plans and nothing to work towards. For graduates who have thus far spent their whole lives striving to reach the next deadline, this emptiness can feel very overwhelming.
However, the problem of post-university depression is not one that solely affects job-seekers. Graduates who have already secured a job after uni can suffer from these feelings too. More than likely, this could be due to the reality of beginning professional life just not matching up to expectations. Students often leave university thinking they’ll move into a job with a seriously impressive starting salary right away. And, as we discovered in our research into average UK graduate starting salaries, this is very often not the case. And when the money is good, grads can find themselves working very long days, leaving them no time to socialise or even make friends in their new city.
If you can associate with any of these feelings, please seek help! Even just talking to a friend or relative about your symptoms can feel like a huge relief, or you can turn to experts such as Mind for free, impartial advice. And if you are one of those grads who has managed to find a job, but is shocked by the reality of it, perhaps it’s time to reconsider your career path. We firmly believe that every graduate should love what they do.
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