How to deal with leaving university in 2021

Leaving university
Graduating in 2021 can seem scary. Source: Dave Wilson (via
Leaving university in a year like 2021 can be incredibly difficult, but it's important to note you're not alone, and there are always people ready to help.

By Tirion Davies | Editor-in-Chief

By March 23, we will have been in lockdown for an entire year in the UK. A year many of us won’t be able to take back.

For many of us, almost half of our education at university will have been online, and as we quickly approach the summer, it can seem scary to have to leave university. In a climate where many are losing their jobs, finding a job can seem near impossible for new graduates.

We are luckier than some, however. Those who graduated last summer are likely still feeling the effects of graduating into a COVID-19 climate.

As reported by the BBC, City Mental Health Alliance found that around half of students report feeling low after leaving university.

So, how do we cope with leaving university at a time where everything seems so uncertain?

Accept it’s okay to struggle

Everybody struggles, it’s a part of life. But, struggling does not mean you’re failing – it means you just need a bit of help.

Many of us have been in education since we were around 3 years old.

18 years of our lives have been spent in an education system that, for the most part, has clear instructions and you always know there is an option to continue on to the next step.

When it comes to leaving university and heading into working life, it can be worrisome because a large majority of us have never experienced it.

We’re not always taught life skills in school. Unfortunately, it’s mainly getting you to a point where you can move on to the next step. When that next step is no longer education, there’s no doubt it’ll be hard.

But people have been making the transition for years. You have the ability to do so, too – even if you don’t think so.

We all seem to think that people with jobs have their lives together when the reality is that everyone’s struggling. There may even be a CEO somewhere thinking “Oh God, this is hard”.

Admitting you’re struggling with the idea of leaving university is nothing to feel guilty about.

Speak to others

The worst thing you can do when you’re struggling is keeping it to yourself. It can be incredibly hard to reach out to somebody and admit you need help, but you’ll feel all the better for it.

It can be a family member of a parent you trust, a friend who’s already made the transition, or you could even ask questions through online forums. There will always be someone willing to help.

It may surprise you to find that many find it to be a relief to hear someone else is also struggling! There is often an expectation that we have to keep everything to ourselves but hearing someone else say “I don’t know what I’m doing” makes many of us say “Oh good! I don’t have a clue either!”.

Do some research

Some recent graduates have begun an open discussion about life after leaving university.

Casting Researcher Emily Cohen started a podcast called Working it Out in 2020 to help teach recent graduates about things that often go unsaid.

The podcast discusses topics many aren’t informed of when they first leave university and teaches new graduates about how to face situations they feel unequipped for.

Similarly, Cardiff University alum and former Quench Editor-in-Chief Katie Huxtable started her own online platform in 2020 called The Graduate Club, after graduating from Cardiff. There she discusses the process of finding a job and coping with life outside of education.

Recent graduates are doing more and more to open the discussion about leaving university, and there are plenty of tools available thanks to social media.

It’s worth looking for accounts and websites you may find helpful.

Assess your options

You don’t, of course, need to jump into a career as soon as you leave university.

Some continue on to a Masters’ degree to continue their education, and some choose to take a gap year.

Find what fits best for you. Don’t feel you need to rush into a job or another year of education if you don’t know what it is you want to do with your life.

Taking the time to really find out what you want to do will be all the more beneficial.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have figured out your entire life-plan by the time you leave university.

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