This week hundreds of thousands of college grads will toss their caps and throw the gowns into storage boxes as they head towards the next stage of life: True Adulthood. A much needed break from years of classes, late night studying, and exams is well-earned, but what happens when the weeks slip into months and learning has abruptly ended?
After graduating, I experienced a stage of what felt like a great loss. I stepped into the shoes of my new full-time gig, I was learning there, but I was missing the push of learning and studying. This lack of learning stage left me feeling sad, and bored. Eventually I felt mentally stuck.
Growing our personal skills and understanding after graduation shouldn’t be limited to the training and learning we do in our new jobs (if we receive an offer post-graduation). We should be poised to set and stick to personal goals to keep improving ourselves, even if the work doesn’t result in a grade or final exam. Here are some ideas on how to grow after graduation.
1. Set the schedule. As a graduate, you are forever free of 7am Geology class, but you’ll find the best use of your individual time if it’s structured. Figure out what time of the day you’re the most productive and focused. Set 30 minutes to 1 hour a day during that time that you can use to experience learning.
2. Learn something that may seem irrelevant. Here’s a crazy idea: having the freedom to literally learn about anything you want. Consider topics that may not help fuel your career right now. Study something that makes you excited. Remember the lecture in English that peaked your interest? Read more from that author. Study watercolor, search out a new coding or design skill (you can find tons of open courses online if you want more structured learning, get more info on that here).
3. Measure it and be accountable. It’s hard to be motivated to finish a goal if you’re not going to measure it. Gone are the days of finals, but all the learning you do should count for something. Sign up for degreed.com and start tracking what you know and what you’re learning. Set goals on the platform for weekly articles, videos, or books to keep you on track. Grab a friend and take a community class or start a book together- having someone else to keep you accountable will make habits stick.
4. Passion Projects. Find a way to apply your learning and integrate it with other passions. Designing a website, selling your product on Etsy, writing blog posts about the books you’re reading. Whatever activities you’re passionate about doing- apply what you’re learning to those. You’ll be excited to do it and it’ll help you retain what you’re learning.
Learning doesn’t have to stop after the graduation ceremony. There are many different ways to continue pursuing education post-graduation, the key is to tap into your desire to learn and fuel that desire in the right way.