I've graduated from university. Now what?
Written by Kenya Francis

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Graduating from college or university can be a very exciting time. For many, it's an opportunity to explore new interests. Or maybe it's the right time to travel or look for a job. Some may choose to continue their education, or enjoy time decompressing at home.

Recent graduates often feel pressure, from themselves and from other people in their lives, to have a plan after graduation. The focus on creating a plan also leads to financial questions, since any plan after graduation will come with significant financial implications.

As a student, I've often asked myself what my plan after graduation should be. Would it be a better idea to gain some work experience first, before pursuing further education? Or should I work towards getting a Master's degree right away and then start looking for a job? I've also wondered if I should take time off to travel before looking for a job, or if it would be better to start working immediately and think about travelling once I've saved a bit.

With all of these questions in mind, I chose to interview my friends Jasmine, Stefania and Michelle, who told me all about their post-graduation plans and the financial decisions that came along with them.

So, what's the plan?

When I asked the three graduates what their plans were for life after the diploma, I got a mixture of responses.

  • One said she would use her newfound freedom to travel and create lifelong memories before settling into a full-time job
  • One preferred to pursue her Master's degree before thinking about anything else
  • One chose to get right into the workforce before considering travel options or continuing education

Speaking with Jasmine, who recently graduated from the University of Toronto, I learned that she chose to get into the workforce right after graduation specifically because she had an OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program) loan to repay, and she didn't feel as though travelling or continuing her education would fit into her budget at the moment.

Stefania, a York University graduate, used the money she had earned during her various internships and waitressing jobs as a student to fund a trip to Africa and Europe a few months after she graduated. She then chose to work full-time with the goal of buying her first condo.

York grad Michelle told me she preferred to focus on working towards getting her Master's degree before looking for a full-time job. Her plan was to completely finish her education, and start making OSAP payments once she was done and earning a full-time income.

We all do things differently, and that's OK

Everyone needs to make their own plan for after university or college based on their individual needs. There isn't a “right" or "wrong" way to manoeuvre through life after graduation. The most important thing is to make the right financial decisions that fit your situation and will help you achieve your goals.

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