Third year is the point where it feels like everyone is making a decision about their future, except maybe you? This is very common, feeling left behind with friends applying for numerous graduate schemes or feeling left out when they’re all planning their masters together. Even those who are planning on moving home closer to London or Manchester can leave you feeling left out in the cold if you’re not doing this.
The fear over not knowing what to do next or not having a decision made is more common than most students realise. A very small minority will know immediately what they will do next, but majority of students will either be winging it or waiting until their degree is over before making a decision about what to do next. However, it will always feel like everyone else has their life together and has planned everything out and you are the only one who doesn’t. I guarantee this is not the case, people put up a front, we all do it, so don’t let someone else’s success intimidate you into not even trying.
Just have a little time
In fact, it has recently been said by the outgoing head of UCAS that students should not be making a career decision whilst at university. University is a time to enjoy, not a time to plan out where you may spend the next 50 years. Doing a degree, you enjoy will be far more motivating in the long run than one you are trying to get a career out of because that’s what you think you should do.
It is recommended instead that students, once graduated, go back to the parental home for 6 months and think about what to do. This may include some volunteer work or even some part time work. This is also partly in response to the current climate where 3 out of 4 students will receive a 2.1 or above degree classification. This is making the job market overly competitive and as such stressing students out about their careers before they’ve even embarked on them. So, having a break and actually thinking about futures can benefits those students who are desperate to run before they have walked.
The job market
The competitive job market is also meaning that even students who have planned and got every relevant job experience they can whilst at university may not necessarily get the exact job they wanted. To have that level of disappointment of perhaps not getting the job you wanted whilst you are also studying will not be beneficial to the overall degree you are hoping to achieve.
An additional factor in this is most students once they’ve graduated at 21, will have spent 16 straight years in education. This is an astonishing 76% of our lives already. Most of us will be a bit overwhelmed and confused when first leaving education, we have all had a set routine and always known what needs doing, whether that’s an essay or exam prep. It can’t hurt to have a break and to reassess what you enjoy doing and also what you are good at.
For example, if you always enjoyed essays, then that shows good planning and an ability to manage time well, however if you prefer exams, it probably means that you are good at thinking on your feet and are quite eloquent. This isn’t an exact science, but it is worth considering how you can apply the world of education to the world of work. Also, everyone remembers doing those left brain, right brain tests at school right? This is the same sort of thing, assess your strengths, and then make a decision.
Plenty of options and time with a decision
There are plenty of options open to students, particularly ones just graduated. There is the option of a masters, and I did not realise how many masters there were out there until I started looking. There are graduate schemes, normally two-year long training that you get paid for, that are specifically for students. There are jobs that will always have openings the summer after you graduate, there will be volunteer positions and part time jobs out there. Recently I saw an assistant wedding planner job, that I am planning on applying for. There is no limit to your future and therefore there is no reason you should be planning it out like there is.
The pressures of making a decision about your future could be detracting away from the enjoyment university can give. Instead of planning out video interviews with companies, you could be dancing on tables in bierkeller or going to the Halloween all nighter. Don’t start behaving like you have a job when university is the most freeing time you will have for a long time. Listen to your friends as they plan out their life but don’t let it get to you, we are all going to succeed and the person planning their future career might end up hating it. However, taking a bit of time and really thinking about your decision rather than panic applying for anything and everything is a far more guaranteed way of being happy.