What to Do after You Graduate College: Navigating Post-College Decisions

Congratulations—you’re a college graduate! You’ve invested time, passion, and brainpower into the last few years of your life to achieve something truly commendable. You deserve to take a beat and celebrate this milestone with your friends and family.

Once the excitement settles, you’re on to the next thing. As fortunate as it is to have many paths and opportunities ahead of you, deciding what to do after you graduate college can be challenging.

What to Do after You Graduate College

Here are some common next steps to help you decide how to keep moving toward your goals.

Get a Job

For many students, preparing for a career is the driving force that shapes their academic journey. If this sounds like you, it only makes sense that you’re eager to secure a position in the professional world. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

What Are the Academic Requirements for Your Chosen Field?

Understand what degree or training you’ll need to stand out against the competition as you apply for jobs. Thinking long term, are there limits to how far you can grow in your career without a more advanced degree?

What Does the Job Market Look Like?

It’s easier to get a job at certain times than others. Many industries are deeply affected by economic cycles, and if the economy isn’t doing well, this can mean fewer job openings (and fiercer competition). Connecting with your professors or professionals in your desired field can help you gain insight into the job market.

Are You Still Happy with Your Chosen Career?

It’s not uncommon for students to change their minds about what type of job they want after college. You should never feel like your degree confines you to a career that doesn’t fit with your vision for the future. If you’re having second thoughts, you may want to consider holding off on getting a job in that field.

Take a Gap Year

Taking a gap year means taking a break from your academic pursuits for self-discovery, development, and exploration. During this time, you may choose to travel, volunteer, or take a job outside of your anticipated career path. A gap year can be a great option if you’re still deciding what you want your future to look like since you can explore alternative careers.

Taking a gap year can have some drawbacks though. If you decide to take advantage of your freedom to travel, this can be tough on your budget—particularly if you have college loans to pay back. You’ll also put yourself a year behind your peers who enter the workforce straight out of college.

Start Graduate School

You can decide to go to graduate school at any stage of life, but it can be advantageous to keep your academic momentum going. If you plan to go to graduate school at some point in the future, consider getting started right away.

Here are a few benefits of heading straight to graduate school:

  • Build more relationships to strengthen your career network.
  • Gain new, more specialized skills that make you more employable.
  • Add to your knowledge base while the learnings from your undergraduate career are still fresh in your mind.
  • Take advantage of having fewer competing priorities and responsibilities, like buying a home or starting a family.

If you choose this path, you can still leverage a part-time job to get valuable experience in your profession and learn transferrable skills that will impress future employers.

Building Your Network at Azusa Pacific University

Whatever you decide to do after graduation, networking can help you on your way. If you’re looking for a job, your connections can help you get a foot in the door. If you’re set on a gap year, the relationships you make can open your eyes to life-changing opportunities. And if you’re heading to graduate school, your network will advise you as you embark on your next education journey.

For more support, connect with APU’s Career Services, which are designed to help alumni take that next step, whether that’s finding a job, applying to graduate school, or engaging with other APU graduates to discuss your options further.