What College Seniors Are Really Thinking as Graduation Approaches

Seniors might be graduating, but that doesn't mean they're feeling ready to tackle the real world just yet. Mighty Mommy chatted with upcoming college grads to learn what's on their minds and help you, their parent, prepare them for life after college.

Cheryl Butler
8-minute read
Episode #529

That moment you’ve been waiting for since your child began his college journey is finally here—graduation! In four very fast years, not only has he studied hard for his degree, he’s also learned independence, built lifelong relationships, gained important skills such as doing laundry and cooking, and is now brimming with confidence and ready to take on the world.

Or is he?

Hey parents—newsflash!—as you prepare to celebrate the amazing culmination of your child's college life, he or she may well be grappling with how to handle the overwhelming responsibilities of adult life. Seniors might be graduating, but that doesn't mean they're feeling ready to tackle the real world just yet. 

May is one of my favorite months. The temperatures are warmer, and the burst of color from blossoming trees and flowers is so uplifting. I also get to enjoy some very special days. The first is Mother’s Day  Mother is a title I worked hard to earn! It also happens to be my birthday month, and I love a good party. And finally, it’s graduation month, a time to celebrate exciting new beginnings.

This year, two of my kids are graduating, one from high school and the other from college. While my high school son is excited to leave school behind and embark on a brand-new college experience, my college senior has more bittersweet feelings. He admits to feeling pretty darn scared about what lies ahead after he steps off campus this month and walks into his future as an unemployed college grad.

What’s on a College Grad’s Mind?

I interviewed my graduating son and his friends to get real about their post-college concerns. I'll share their comments and offer up some tips—both my own and some straight from the upcoming grads—to help you support your new graduate as he or she gets ready for life after college.

Did college prepare you for the real world and for a career?

“Attending college definitely helped me acquire skills and knowledge to enter the workforce. But more than anything, it helped me obtain a strong mindset that is hopefully going to help me transition from college to the grown-up world. Truthfully, I think it’s going to be a pretty drastic change going from an academic routine into a career setting. There were plenty of days when I felt the grind of studying and being part of an athletic team. When I was rundown with my schedule, I could blow off classes, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case when I start working full-time in a professional setting.” 

See Also: 5 Simple Mindfulness Habits for Better Parenting

How Parents Can Help

“Every parent’s expectations will be different for their graduating student. High achieving families want to see their child lining up several job opportunities before they walk off of campus with their degree. That might be the case for a handful of students, but the majority of kids in my class have no clue where they are going to start looking for a job. We're looking for guidance and support when we leave school, not the pressure of a deadline that [says] we need to be walking into our chosen career path a week after we graduate.”

Find a balance between helping us have realistic expectations while allowing us to be excited about the future.

What are you most excited about as you leave your college experience behind?

“As much as I liked my college experience, I’m looking forward to not having to jump through academic hoops anymore. Most of us work really hard at our studies. There are a lot of intense periods with research papers and exams, all while worrying about working part-time and having money to cover expenses while we're living away from home. Having new opportunities such as landing a great job, finding my own place to live, and not having to worry about so many deadlines all the time is definitely inviting!”

How Parents Can Help

“We know some of our ideas and dreams might take time to accomplish. Please don’t squash our desires. Find a balance between helping us have realistic expectations while allowing us to be excited about the future.”


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.