The Post College Let Down

It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go. – Jim Rohn

In a perfect world – at least as stories go – you graduate from college, degree in hand with a clear sense of purpose, direction and momentum. You’re off! Your ship has sailed into the great wide open.  At least, that’s what you think the outcome will be after 4 or 5 or 6+ years of college. The truth of the matter is that you will be in the thick of changing waters and treacherous seas – both personal and professional – for nearly a decade. Yes…a decade.


So what gives? Why do we spend time, money, and energy focused on a degree, only to graduate without much lift? In fact, to graduate with a muddled sense of “what’s next?” In college, you focus on the immediate future: tasks and deadlines to be completed by the end of the day, week, or academic year. Internships that seem to align with your major. Events and opportunities that promise connections you may need to land a job. But what you’re doing for those 4 years is merely akin to the shipbuilding process: creating a structure that you hope sails smoothly into unknown territory. Simply put, college will help you build a sturdy ship, but it will not necessarily give you direction on how to sail.


This is precisely what the problem is. From the moment you graduate, your ship leaves the harbor and the wind kicks up. If you don’t know how to adjust your own sails – or don’t have a solid team helping to guide you in the initial sailing process – your ship sets out directionless and at the mercy of whichever way the wind blows (for many, this translates into going in circles leading nowhere fast….for about 4 years, according to the research trends).


But it’s not all doom and gloom. Not at all.  It’s more major inconvenience, chaos, and discomfort. Many people call this part of the adventure the “Quarterlife Crisis” zone. While we hope and expect that college is one giant “ah ha” moment of light and truth and direction, it is not. Most recent grads simply find themselves in their twenties wondering how to move forward and get out of Stuck-ville.  Likely wondering “Is this really ‘it?'” and perhaps even considering rerouting altogether.


So what to do when you feel the big post-college let down?  Time to consider your sailing skill set. Time to chart your clear sense of purpose and direction. Time to articulate what you bring to the table and how it aligns with your next steps into a meaningful career and life that you want.


To find out how to move forward with more lift, stay tuned to future posts.