Navigating the fog: what life is like postgraduation
Graduation marks the start of a new journey often filled with uncertainty.

You are walking through a thick forest with nothing but endless trees and pathways. Ahead of you feels like an abyss. A fog builds so thick it is blinding your vision. One path may lead you somewhere and another in a completely different direction. You don’t know what lies ahead, all you can do is make the decision in front of you, even though that may be the decision that determines the rest of your life. Sounds familiar? That is what our soon-to-be graduates are going through right now.

Graduation is often romanticized amongst students with big dreams and high hopes of escaping the struggling student life. However, what most students fail to realize is that the journey begins after you graduate. A journey of discovering who you are without the shadow of being a student for the past twenty-something years. 

A syndrome that a lot of students develop during their undergraduate studies and tend to struggle with even after is imposter syndrome—a persistent self-doubt and an irrational sense of intellectual fraudulence despite clear accomplishments. It’s a paradox wherein success and competence coexist with nagging feelings of inadequacy. This makes navigating decisions after graduation even harder.

Often, students find themselves considering their options of entering the working world or continuing further education. According to Urban Institute Graduate Studies, within 10 years of receiving a bachelor’s degree, 40 per cent of those graduates enroll in a graduate school. Students are often not satisfied by the workplace because it doesn’t provide the same high that academic successes and achievements provide. They find themselves looking at programs and wanting to continue their education after graduating even if that was not their initial plan. 

Noorma Fatima graduated with a specialist in biology in 2023 from the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) and explains this feeling perfectly, “Unfortunately, when I graduated, there was a period where I didn’t know whether I should continue being a student or apply to jobs. I had to figure out my options both in the academic field and in the job market.” Fatima went on to pursue medical school the following fall at Poznan University of Medical Sciences. Although she had found her passion and next steps, she still describes postgraduate life as difficult to deal with, as you may not know what’s next. “It can get challenging because sometimes you may not understand what you want to do or what your options are. I would recommend being patient and calm during this transition because it is not the easiest one.” 

So, if you are struggling to see through that fog, remember that you are not alone. After graduating, you get to decide what you want to do and that can be a daunting decision. It can also be hard to achieve your goal, get into your dream program, or start your own entrepreneurial business. 

The advantages that you have with planning for graduate school or your next step in your life are age and experience. Whereas when you chose your undergraduate program, you were no more than a 17- or 18-year-old teenager. Now you are an adult. Plan for the future. Ask the questions and do your research. Take the time to investigate why this specific program will be beneficial to your future and where can it potentially lead you. You have the power to control where you want to go from here.

Another important step for graduates to take is in networking. Talk to alumni and learn from their stories. Do their stories align with your vision? Use resources like LinkedIn, your postgraduate program’s social media pages, and group chats to start connecting with individuals who are also starting with you. These connections will eventually become lifelong friendships or your professional network that play a role in helping you land that job, the people you will seek out to for advice on that entrepreneurial idea, or simply a study partner to share the ups and downs of graduate school with. 

And finally, don’t forget to cherish your time in your postgraduate life. As an alumnus myself, I think this is one advice all alumni would give. Students are so eager to complete their undergraduate programs and graduate that they forget to romanticize it. You are finally graduating from young adulthood to full adulthood, where you have the power and freedom to explore who you are and build everything with your own hands.

As daunting as life after graduating can be, remember to take it one day at a time. Don’t compare yourself to your peers who are on their own paths. Everyone is on a different pathway, and they see just as thick of a fog as you do. Take one step at a time and trust yourself in navigating through it. There is something very exciting about trusting the process, putting in the work, and seeing where it eventually leads you. 

Congratulations to all the upcoming soon-to-be graduates. We are proud of you.

Associate Features Editor (Volume 50) — Rafiqa is a recent graduate from the Professional Writing and Communication program in which she wrote her first novel The Custard Apple Tree, an ode to her grandmother who survived the 1947 India-Pakistan Partition. Drawing on her background as an author specializing in historical fiction and a love for storytelling, Rafiqa hopes to bring forward compelling articles challenging Western narratives and societal stigmas and bridging a pathway for diversity. She hopes her experience at The Medium will be a platform for her to bring unheard and oppressed voices to be heard through human interest stories and other interesting articles!


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