PhD student Shonagh McInnes reflects on her graduation experience and how it inspired her research into graduate well-being.
For me, and I’m sure many others before me, graduating was a bittersweet experience. After four years of lectures, exam stress and deadlines, you will never again have to stay up until 3am in the library frantically trying to get a piece of work finished whilst living off coffee and Doritos.
It is the moment you have been working towards for years, and now it’s here. You are graduating university – and that feeling of elation, liberation and pride can be immense. On the other hand, I’m sure we’ve all heard the cliches from those who feel they are older and wiser. “Enjoy it while it lasts… University is the best time of your life… Just wait until you’re in the real world”.
The question of what life will be like after graduation crosses every students’ mind at some point, and for many approaching graduation that feeling of “what now?” can begin to creep in. It is normal to find the prospect of graduating daunting. After all, graduation is a time of change. The thought of change and the process of change is not always easy, and can be accompanied by feelings of worry and fear.
You spend four years getting comfortable at university, building a familiar routine and relationships, and then your time there ends. Whatever you choose to do after you graduate – new opportunities, challenges, relationships and places await. This is what made graduation such a happy, stressful, exciting and terrifying time for me.
Given this mixture of emotions, it is perhaps not surprising that transitioning into graduate life may impact on your mental wellbeing. There are, increasingly, conversations around “graduation blues” and the struggles facing students after graduating university. In a recent survey for Student Minds, 49% of graduates said that their mental wellbeing declined after leaving university (Reino & Byrom, 2017). This finding inspired me to create the Graduate Wellbeing Project.
The Graduate Wellbeing Project – participants wanted
The Graduate Wellbeing Project aims to investigate the relationship between students’ mental well-being and perceptions of their environment during the transition into graduate life.
I believe this research is important because currently little is known about changes in mental health as students leave university and transition into graduate life. We, therefore, cannot understand how to best support students during this time.
I am currently looking for students to take part in the project.
Who can participate? Any undergraduate student at a UK university who is graduating in 2019.
Why take part? The information gained from the project will inform the creation of an e-resource to support future graduating students.
As a thank you for your time, you can be entered into a prize draw to win Amazon vouchers. How can I take part? I am looking for participants to complete an online survey. It should take around 20 minutes to complete. For more information and to take part, visit: www.graduatewellbeingproject.com