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Post Graduate Depression

Graduating from college and entering “the real world” is perhaps one of the most jarring life transitions a young adult will ever face.

It is a rejuvenating experience at first. A time where many believe they can finally put their academic genius to the test and conquer the world. The time for all that hard work, long nights and large doses of Red Bull will pay off.

graduate walkingBut in most cases, the experiences and promises for a bright future might be misleading. Depending on your course, experience, and most importantly connections, almost everyone will have a post-graduation experience that will hit hard.

Rejections from job applications and interviews can pile up and take a serious toll on one’s self-esteem.

What is Post Graduate Depression?

Leaving university or college might be the biggest leap in our lives.

Graduation depression may not be an official diagnosis, but it is a common feeling used to describe the extreme sadness, stress, and impaired functioning that new graduates experience after they leave behind the world they created in college.

The problems start to occur a few months after graduation. With a piece of paper telling that a graduate has a set of skills, following a series of failed job interviews, is extremely discouraging. Not to mention that in many countries, it leaves thousands of people in debt, living with their parents, and feeling isolated.

And the sad part is that this is more common in developed Western nations.

“Some years ago, my classmates and I graduated. We departed from acclaimed, Top 100 Universities, thinking we’d grab the world by its balls in a Wolf of Wall Street manner. But soon enough, reality came knocking on the door, and the job market left us with more rejections than a techie trying to score on Tinder. It became evident that our dreams will not be so easy to reach. In fact, it would take years of blood, sweat, and tears!”

graduation stand

Signs and symptoms of graduate depression

It is hard to tell how many graduates experience postgraduate depression. Studies have shown that every 4th student felt depressed at some point throughout their studies.

According to Cosmopolitan, 40% of graduates described themselves as feeling ‘socially isolated, 44% believed their friends were more successful than they were and 49% said their mental well-being declined. So what causes all this?

1, Sudden change in lifestyle

It’s true, the transition hits hard. In university, you get a cocoon of sorts. You are surrounded by friends, professors, like-minded classmates, mentors, and a lifestyle you are accustomed to. There are student unions, lectures to guide you, and a large circle of friends.

Mistakes are minor and will not come haunting you as much as in the workplace. Before graduation, many feel like they’ve reached the height of their academic power. Unfortunately, many who climb high, may not realize how hard the crash is when not prepared for the real world.

2, Loneliness

University is a structured routine of security, friendships, and learning. With thousands of students to share lecture halls, dining rooms, corridors, student unions – it is clear that leaving it all behind might result in leaving some familiar faces behind too.

Most young adults return to their parent’s homes, isolated from the company of friends one enjoying being with over the year. 

3, The Lowest in the Food Chain

Even if you are amongst the lucky and diligent ones who got a job, it may not always be as fulfilling as hoped. If we look at the corporate hierarchy, graduates who finally earn their well-deserved jobs will most often do repetitive, menial, less fulfilling tasks for lousy pay or for no pay at all.

Internships and graduate positions will reward you with the experience needed, however, most jobs do not require the skills you have forged in the classroom. 

How to cope with graduate depression?

What I had learned is: there is no reason to stress or lament the past. This is a natural stage in life nearly everyone has to go through. For some, it is more difficult than others. Take a break but don’t give up your search! A suitable job is out there. Eventually, everyone finds what he or she is looking for. The only question is a matter of time. 

However, job searches are more difficult throughout the autumn or late summer period when thousands graduate. You will be plunged into a fierce competition, where the HR will have piles of CVs covering their desks. Don’t go with the flow. Apply before you get your diploma or take a long break if you can afford it and send your application several months later.

Preparation is key! Your CV/Resume has to be top-notch. If you’d like to know how to nail your next interview or how to prepare for it, we have a unique article to help you out 🙂 

In the grand scheme of things, graduates are still very young. Giving one’s self some more time to be 100% certain about their decision is a safer bet than jumping into something and regretting it later. Be as kind and as understanding to yourself about how you’re feeling as you would to a friend.


If you feel nervous about getting a job or fitting in with your new work environment,  you can always take matters into your own hands and start your own business or side hustle based on what you enjoy doing. My recommendation is to start using your skills to teach others, in order to make some money. Another tip is to launch a blog or online business to write or share what you know with others!

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1 comment

Onome Joseph 2020-06-13 at 10:19

Only a few talk about this depression. You’ll likely never know about it until you’re out of school. I realized how critical life was after School and only got to find out from my friends that they went through the same phase. I documented their response in my post on how depressing it is for fresh graduates. I wasn’t alone in my struggle, people need to be educated about this struggle. It’s almost inevitable for many.


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