PCSD: A Grads’ Biggest Fear after Crossing the Stage

Courtesy of Psychology Today

For four years students have only angled their stress into passing all of their courses.  Imagining graduation but only the festivities and excitement of the actual commencement. Never identifying with what life will be like once they graduate, but suddenly all the anxiety hits. A few months out from walking across the stage or a few months after, they feel like they should be diagnosed with a disorder because they are so unhappy.

According to Psychology Today, Post Commencement Stress Disorder (PCSD) is a condition affecting new graduates facing the task of choosing, changing or pursuing a career beyond the protective bubble provided by the traditional college campus.

Three Florida A&M Rattlers gave their input on dealing with graduation anxiety.

The anxiety of post graduation is fairly new for Kailynn Kinney, a fourth-year health science student from Columbus, Ohio.

“Post graduation has hit me the hardest most recently. I did not realize how unprepared I was until others around me began to move. I can finally say I have found my knick and sense of stride. However, I am still extremely nervous about post graduation. For four years, college has been our life; our only real responsibility.”

Psychology Today reports any anxiety and stress will result from experiencing a mixture of excitement and fear of the unknown. Insecurity may overcome many new graduates as they pursue a vision and career.

Tyler German received her Bachelor of Science in Accounting from FAMU. She has been employed at McGladrey Accounting Firm as an assurance associate since graduating Fall 2014.

“Was I nervous? Of course! I was entering a stage in life I have never experienced, but was I excited and prepared? Absolutely! I think being prepared and understanding that it's time to be an adult will help remove any nervousness.”

Not all cases of PCSD are caused by lack of preparation during college years.  Sometimes feelings are unavoidable because entering a new chapter of life is unfamiliar.  

Dwayne Stanford, a spring 2013 civil engineering graduate and current ExxonMobile Project Engineer, was well prepared for life after graduation. He strategically planned out his life the moment he stepped on “The Hill”.  

“I was definitely anxious. Almost daily, I would freak out because I had no idea of what to expect with the new chapter of my life.  I dealt with adversity but knew I was prepared for life's new challenges. I didn't have to stress about having funds to live but was granted the privilege to focus on building wealth at an early age.”

Life after college does not have to be as challenging and nerve-wrecking as society makes it. If you are a recent graduate and find yourself unhappy and cannot identify why, Psychology Today suggests that you analyze your current situation.

How to determine if you are experiencing PCSD:

  • Feeling you are not in control of your life

  • Feeling a lack of support after commencement

  • Feelings of failure if the new graduate is unable to find work in their area of specialty in a reasonable length of time

As the anxiety kicks in and graduation approaches, I can only offer a small amount of advice—MAKE A PLAN AND STICK TO IT!