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The Peaks and Valleys of Being a Fall Graduate

Fall semester graduates celebrate the holidays and anticipate their college graduation ceremony…Merry-Congratulationmas!

Illustration by Callie Lin

Graduation season flourished this spring as we saw our friends, family, and colleagues wear their caps and gowns, celebrating years of hard work as they earned their newest college degrees.

The “One Degree Hotter” posts fill our Instagram feed with a captivating ambiance of sunny skies, greenery floral landscapes, balloons, confetti, and no short of bright smiles from fellow graduates and their peers. The celebratory vibes of graduation season are always the perfect kick-off to summer every year.

With the fall 2024 semester roughly two months away, some students will be taking their final classes and saying goodbye to their campus at the end of this year. In other words, these students will be new college graduates amid Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s (A unique gift, right?).

@imsandrachen

graduating this december but have to wait until may to walk🧍🏻‍♀️ products: @Tower 28 Beauty sunny days (20 mulholland) @milkmakeup lip + cheek blush (rally) @Rare Beauty tinted lip oil (hope) #decembergraduate #collegelife #gradstudent #decembergraduation #firstgenstudent #collegeupdate

♬ original sound – Sandra Chen

Graduations in fall or winter may feel less traditional or don’t have the same “graduation season” spark as it does in the spring and summer. Winter graduates may either have no ceremony, wait for spring, or have smaller ceremonies than spring graduates.

No matter the year, semester, or student’s age, graduating from college is still a worthy accomplishment. But as a winter graduate counting down the days until the spring ceremony with everyone else, what do you do for the time being?

The cozy and cheerful holiday season

Credit: Shutterstock/Okrasiuk

As the fall semester concludes in December, you begin your post-graduation journey home for the holidays—warm-baked cookies, fuzzy socks, watching SpongeBob’s Christmas specials, and admiring festively decorated neighborhoods.

After studying for finals and wrapping up your holiday shopping, this time of the year is about being with loved ones in your pajamas and ugly Christmas sweaters.

During the cold, snowy weather, there’s no pressure to be outside. It’s comforting to relax and decompress from the semester, let alone the last few years of school. Finally, after classes are over, you’re in control of how long your break is and how your time is spent.

The job searching begins…

Being a fall graduate means you don’t have to worry about buying textbooks or your waitlisted class for the spring. You can finally validate your college degree on your resume.

Despite the tedious job hunt after graduating, a 2024 Business Insider article debating the “Is college worth it?” question weighs in on career advancement opportunities for degree holders.

College grads have access to 57% more opportunities than those without a degree.

Christiana Sciaudone, Business Insider
Credit: Shutterstock/zimmytws

If you’re graduating in the fall, get a head start on that hunt, especially for spring and summer starting positions.

Being able to intern or work full-time without juggling school responsibilities is hugely beneficial, as it allows you to be fully present in the work environment and acquire career skills that appeal to you.

From personal experience, starting a spring internship felt like a new semester without sitting in a classroom. It’s hands-on experience with industry experts and the freedom to explore the city as an intern.

I kept busy and waited for the spring ceremony, and I didn’t feel elongated anymore. In May, graduation day felt like a dual celebration of school and accomplishing the first steps into the real world.

Taking your time & figuring out your new post-grad identity

Credit: Shutterstock/Cookie Studio

It’s okay to not want a job right after college. Do you want an internship? Get your master’s degree? Travel? Invest in your hobbies? Move? Volunteer? Do some more research about your future? Or simply take a well-deserved break?

As a recent graduate, you could be stuck on what’s next and feel like you’re making multiple mistakes. You’re not alone! Many grads feel this way, like Ian Caveny, who graduated in 2013 and suddenly had to unlearn the “rhythm and patterns” from every school year. Just remember your post-grad journey is uniquely yours to discover and gain new wisdom along the way.

Best of all, you won’t have to juggle coursework and extracurriculars on top of these intense, soul-searching sessions.

Amelia Woolard, Ucribs

Fresh post-grad life means transitioning from being a busy student with routine 11:59 PM deadlines to resetting your energy with no more academic stress. You have 4-6 months until the spring ceremony, and longer, to figure out what you’d like to do next.

I’m here to tell you that it’s OK to have no idea what you’re going to do. It’s OK to not have a post-grad plan. It’s OK to want to live your life and work on yourself. Nobody has everything figured out, so you shouldn’t put that pressure on yourself to have it all figured out.

Audrey Parayno, Daily Titan

Attending alumni events

As a college graduate, you’re qualified to attend your school’s alumni events. These events not only provide networking opportunities but also industry and career-specific knowledge from others about their accomplishments and challenges (A great source for insight and inspiration!).

On March 28th, CUNY Baruch College hosted a “reading and conversation” alumni event with Daphne Palasi Andreades, the author of Brown Girls. This is just one example of many alumni events for the chance to be in the same room with other passionate individuals.

Check your school’s website or Instagram alumni page to keep up with their alumni event calendar. You can meet and learn from past graduates, previous colleagues, professors and more.

Keeping in touch with college friends

Credit: Shutterstock/Marian Weyo

One of the most refreshing feelings post-grad is still being in touch with the friends you made in college. Just like you, they’re on the same level as you in figuring out their own post-grad plans. If you’re graduating together, that’s even more of a reason to stay in touch with your college friends!

Reach out and make plans together. Discuss each other’s new post-grad plans and how they’re currently navigating this new chapter in their lives. Offer inspiration and advice to your soon-to-be graduating friends as they prepare for post-grad life. Sometimes, it’s hard to find the right time to hang out, but the thoughtfulness goes a long way.

Even if you’re out of college and no longer see each other on a daily basis, planning events around holidays can be a convenient way to meet up.

Waiting for your graduation ceremony

@nkirstenx

i guess ill walk the stage in 6 months #fyp #college #2023grad

♬ FOLLOW _CHERRYHARRY_ – cou cou

If your college only does spring ceremonies, don’t be discouraged, Fall graduates. You got through all of your classes and made it this far to earn your degree. Congratulations!

Being a mid-year fall graduate can be a weird transition into post-grad, but there are multiple opportunities to take advantage of this extra time before the spring ceremony. In a few months, you’ll be wearing your cap and gown alongside everyone else.

The traditional four year path is going obsolete. Graduates should be celebrated when they finally press submit on that last assignment. No matter what time of year they finish their coursework, no matter how many times they changed their major and no matter how many years it took to get there; everyone deserves a fabulous celebration.

Rebecca Caraway, Mustang News
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Written By

I'm Priya, a recent graduate from CUNY Baruch College with a B.A. in Journalism. Currently a "Life" intern at Trill Mag & a Magazine Editorial intern at the New York Review of Books. I love writing, cats, The Weeknd, french fries, colorful pants and creating stickers!

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