This is part three of my series on transitions.

When I graduated from college back in 1983 I have very clear recollections of graduation day.  It was hectic.  My entire family had come for the event–parents, sister and her family and my brother and his family.  It was sort of chaotic.

I remember having a vague sense that though excited about graduating I was about to part from some people that had become very close friends over 4 years.  And I think I knew that I would not see them again. 

That’s exactly what occurred.  Oh, some, including my roommate of 3.5 years, are still friends.  But most of those are people I didn’t continue to keep up with (strangely, Facebook has changed all of that.  The same thing is true for high school).

For those who go to college straight out of high school, finishing college is the time most enter the workforce.  Of course there are some who continue with their education to pursue graduate or post graduate degrees, but for the majority, with diploma in hand, it is to work they go.

That transition can be challenging.  Whereas for many, parental support continues during college years.  I know I certainly made more than one call home to ask mom for money!  But when we graduate (and 43% of high school grads who start college won’t graduate in even 6 years) from college, most of the time the next steps are not on the parents dime.

Certainly the economic downturn in the US since 2008 has challenged much of this, with many people in their late 20s or 30s returning to live with parents if they cannot find employment.  When that happens, though, it is usually understood to be for only the short term.

The transition out of college can include moves away from college town and home town to follow job opportunities.  It frequently involves decisions about home ownership or rentals, about expenses that weren’t required while still in college.

And for many, it is the first real time they encounter the bite that taxes can take out of a, usually, larger pay check.

One transition I remember with 2 years of college graduation is how much more intelligent my father seemed to me.  I began to see that much of what he had been trying to teach me when I was a teenager was based on his own life experiences.  And like a typical teen, I couldn’t accept what he was saying.

But when I turned 25 it seemed like my father’s IQ must have gone up 70 points.

Many college graduates have to begin paying back student loans once they enter the workforce.  Amounts for monthly repayment will, obviously, vary according to how much was actually borrowed to finance their undergraduate degree.  Perhaps too frequently, many graduates look immediately to grad school as the next step, without giving any serious consideration to the potential gains for their career that a graduate degree might offer.  The result is simply more debt.

I guess what I remember most about graduating from college was the awareness that finishing college was a huge step.  I wasn’t aware of how big the step was, but unlike high school (where I was clueless of the end of what had been important friendships to that point), I knew that I was about to swim out to the deeper end of the pool.

What about you?  What was graduating from college like for you?  Huge transition?  Minor modification?