STUDENTS AS EMERGING ADULTS: FINAL YEAR PARENT & FAMILY PROGRAMS
The Final Year During a student’s final year in college, they are often left wondering, “what’s next?” For students who are graduating, the frequently asked question, “what will you do after graduation?” can cause anxiety as students still considering their options or unsure of their plans repeatedly answer this question with more unknowns. Many students manage the job search process in their final year, while others explore and apply to graduate school or other programs like Teach for America or the Peace Corps. Sometimes having to make a decision about what to pursue next is difficult for students who may not have a clear path forward or may doubt previously determined plans and goals.
For many students, the loss of identity as a student is overwhelming, and in addition to considering what is next in their life after college, they may be managing grief over the conclusion of their college experience or the graduation of friends (if they are not graduating yet themselves). Managing the stress and anxiety, coupled with the transition issues students face as they prepare to move on from their experience at CSU, may lead to mental health concerns or the need to more intentionally explore feelings and emotions related to the transition. The final year is also a wonderful opportunity for
students to develop purpose and think critically about their choices moving forward. It offers a chance for students to make connections between their experiences and their values, connecting the dots of their time at CSU and making plans for the future. It is a time of reflection as students consider larger life questions and consider how their personal values, many of which may have shifted during their time in college, align with their next steps in life, both personally and professionally. The final year can also be a time of celebration as graduating students honor the achievement of degree completion.
STUDENTS AS EMERGING ADULTS: FINAL YEAR
Issues Typically Experienced in the Final Year and Resources Available ANXIETY ABOUT MANAGING THE GRADUATION PROCESS
There are many steps students must complete to academically prepare for graduation and these steps may vary by college or department. This includes ensuring the correct coursework is completed and the necessary paperwork is filed. The mechanics of commencement ceremonies also might be confusing to students as they consider their desire to officially participate in this program and how best to involve their parents, families, and friends.
Individual Departments/Colleges Students are encouraged to talk with faculty and staff in their individual departments and colleges for insight about the path to graduation and commencement ceremonies. The Commencement Website The official Commencement Website is a great resource for students and their families as they prepare to take part in this celebration.
A DESIRE TO CELEBRATE REACHING THE FINAL YEAR OF COLLEGE/ GRADUATION
Progression through one’s academic experience is an accomplishment, and many students look forward to celebrating their hard work and impending completion.
Alumni Association The CSU Alumni Association provides ways for students to honor their graduation and stay connected to CSU after graduation. This includes options for new graduates to officially become members of the Alumni Association, which can be done online. The Office of CSU Events and ASAP A “Celebrate Seniors Week” provides educational and celebratory programming to honor seniors and help them prepare for life after college. These programs are held by a variety of student groups and offices around campus. To view an updated calendar of events, visit the website! The student programming board, ASAP, plans an annual Commencement Concert to celebrate seniors in their last few weeks of the semester. The Commencement Website The official Commencement Website provides information about not only the actual ceremonies, but also the celebration that is commencement. Annual Giving Senior students can make a senior gift to any program/department/area that has impacted them at CSU. It’s a great way to honor their experience and leave a legacy at CSU.
TAKING ON LEADERSHIP ROLES AND SEEKING A “CAPSTONE” EXPERIENCE TO MAKE MEANING OF THE COLLEGE EXPERIENCE
Many senior students have spent several years involved in student organizations, internships, and academic experiences. In the final year, students often take on leadership roles or are expected to set an example for younger students in these involvements/experiences. As students prepare for graduation, they may feel the need to seek out a capstone experience to make meaning of their time in college. This includes the need to take an academic capstone course to tie together inside-the-classroom learning and career preparation as well as co-curricular endeavors to connect the involvement experiences students have had.
Individual Departments/Colleges Students can work with their individual college or department to better understand the requirements and opportunities for academic capstone course offerings. SLiCE The Student Leadership, Involvement, and Community Engagement (SLiCE) Office can provide outside-the-classroom experiences for students advancing through their college journey. This includes leadership workshops, classes and conferences, opportunities to get/remain involved in the community, and student organization support.
THE NEED TO MAKE DECISIONS ABOUT WHAT COMES AFTER COLLEGE
Identity Managing Emotions
In the final year, students begin/continue consideration of the next steps in their lives/careers. This may include the job search process, applying to graduate schools, or considering other post-graduate experiences like Teach for America. For many students, anxiety increases about having to make what seems like longterm life decisions. This includes decisions about where to live (including a potential move back to the homes of parents/family members), how to financially manage life after college, etc.
The CSU Career Center
The CSU Career Center offers tremendous resources to students as they think about next steps. Students are encouraged to meet with career counselors as well as attend events like career and graduate school fairs and the many workshops offered by the Career Center.
CSU Alumni Association
The Alumni Association offers many resources and services to students as they think about life after college.
STUDENTS AS EMERGING ADULTS: FINAL YEAR
ANXIETY ABOUT LOSING ONE’S IDENTITY AS A STUDENT
For many college students, the last several years have provided consistency related to one’s identity as a student. The thought of moving on from this stability into an unknown future can cause some anxiety or fear.
Students that may want to talk with someone about managing loss of identity, grief, or the stress and anxiety that may come with managing the transition process as a senior student are encouraged to visit CSU Counseling Services. Services include one-on-one counseling and support groups, as well as workshops.
ANXIETY ABOUT LOSING FRIENDS AND VALUABLE RELATIONSHIPS BUILT IN COLLEGE
Mature Relationships Managing Emotions Developing Interdependence
Students have often spent their time in college building meaningful friendships and relationships with instructors and mentors, as well as friends. Moving on from CSU doesn’t mean these relationships end, but it may mean that students have to work harder to sustain them. Moving to different locations may contribute to this anxiety and students may fear the need to build a new community in a new location after graduation.
Counseling Services Any student fearing the loss of relationships and looking for community building strategies are encouraged to visit CSU Counseling Services to get support. CSU Alumni Association The CSU Alumni Association provides ways for CSU graduates to build relationships and stay connected to CSU after graduation, no matter where they move. The Ram Network program specifically connects graduates to a network of CSU alumni and friends in many locations throughout the country.
FEAR ABOUT MANAGING LIFE DETAILS (INCLUDING THE BUILDING/ ENHANCEMENT OF LIFE SKILLS LIKE MANAGING A BUDGET, SECURING HOUSING, MOVING BACK IN WITH PARENTS/FAMILIES, REPAYING STUDENT LOANS, NEGOTIATING SALARIES, ETC.)
As students leave CSU and move on to whatever is next in their lives, they may experience fear of how to manage many aspects of life that may be new to them.
CSU Career Center
The CSU Career Center provides many resources to prepare students for life after college beyond a career.
MANAGING A DESIRE TO STAY CONNECTED TO AND INFORMED ABOUT CSU
CSU can play a large role in a student’s life and graduates may experience a desire to stay connected to the institution. This may include a desire to continue receiving information about the campus, to stay connected to faculty and staff, and to continue attending events (like Athletic events) on campus.
The CSU Alumni Association
The CSU Alumni Association can act as a conduit back to campus for graduates wanting information. The first step for all graduates is to update their address with the University so CSU can stay in touch. Students/ graduates can update their address online at the Alumni Association website.
Anyone can connect back to CSU via Today@Colorado State. Visit it often to receive regularly updated information or subscribe to weekly emails.
The Final Year
Can We Talk?
Have you explored what you want your career or next steps to look like? Do those plans feel consistent with your values? How have those plans and intentions changed throughout your CSU experience? Do you have what you need to apply for jobs, graduate school, etc.? Do you know how to access CSU resources?
Do you know how to stay connected with CSU after graduation?
Have you thought about where you might want to live? Will moving back with parents/family be a consideration?
How do you feel about leaving CSU? Have you talked with your friends, colleagues, and/or mentors about staying in touch after graduation? What can you do to celebrate your CSU experience in this final year? What are things you want to make sure to accomplish/experience?