What an exciting time to be in! You are finishing up your undergraduate career and, hopefully, looking back with fond memories of the last few years. Many look to this time with excitement about future prospects, such as graduate school or getting into industry. And the excitement is true...to a point. We are presented with this expectation that every chapter in our academic and employment career consists of smooth transitions without delays or barriers to graduation. Life, however, has a way of sometimes not working out exactly as we hoped, planned, or expected. With academic and career decisions to make, the uncertainty can be a bit scary and lead to stress, inaction, and procrastination. It happens, and you are not alone.
As you are looking down the tunnel at the last leg of your undergraduate career, it is important to maintain balance and have an overall sense of wellness. It won’t do you or your academic performance any good if you are stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. Below are some tips and resources available to you to help you in your endeavors.
Talk with your advisor. It’s better to know ahead of time when you can if you are graduating. It’s also better to have a conversation ahead of time of what to do should you not graduate. We know that grades don’t often come in until the Friday before Commencement, so you may initially think you are going to graduate until that weekend. Your advisor can help you figure out if you can walk for graduation and what classes you may be able to take over summer to get the degree. Or they may be able to help you figure out what plans B through Z are. I encourage you to make an appointment with your advisor sooner rather than later if you think it’s a good possibility you won’t graduate, or if you are uncertain.
- Talk with Engineering Career Services. Sitting down with a Career Counselor can be very helpful. They can help you with connecting to employers if you have had difficulty finding employment. They also have a workshop that can be very helpful in developing plans of action.
Utilize Campus Resources. The Ohio State University is committed to supporting students with multiple resources. Below is a list of free resources and links to their website.
- Dennis Learning Center: The Dennis Learning Center provides free Academic Coaching to assist with learning and motivation strategies. dennislearningcenter.osu.edu
- Office of Disability Services: slds.osu.edu
- Student Advocacy: advocacy.osu.edu
- For even more details about resources and programs, visit advising.engineering.osu.edu/current-osu-students/wellness
Barriers to graduation can happen, and delays in success sometimes occur. Sometimes we can predict that these might happen and sometimes we cannot. Some of you may be aware of these barriers or delays in your own preparation for graduating and have anxiety, fear of disappointing your loved ones, embarrassment of how you believe your friends, classmates, and/or faculty may see you, and even thoughts and feelings that you are a failure. While these reactions may seem understandable because of what and how we think about others and ourselves, the reality is they happen to many of us, and most folks won’t view you as a failure.
When experiencing this anxiety, embarrassment, and fear of disappointment or being a failure, some folks try to cope with these feelings through procrastination or avoidance, using drugs and alcohol, engaging in self-injurious behavior (such as cutting, punching, burning, or banging one’s head against a hard object), or even contemplate or attempt suicide. We get it. You are freezing up and looking for a way to escape because you are not sure what to do next. We wanted to provide you options beyond these unhealthy and even unsafe coping skills to help you be as successful and healthy as you can be. You are not alone. You have many folks and resources available to help you come up with options beyond your number one, which is graduation. Being prepared for other possible outcomes is not self-doubt or weakness, as some might think. It’s having safety nets available so that if option 1 (graduation) doesn’t happen, we can take steps to move forward in a healthy, productive way.
Reaching out to any of the resources listed above can be a great first step.