With the semester coming to an end, students set to graduate are feeling both excited and overwhelmed. Though many students cannot wait for graduation, the large amount of papers to write, exams to study for, and various other engagements make graduating seem like a distant dream. Others, though happy to graduate, are already prepared for post commencement stress disorder to set in.
“Because I’m taking seven classes, graduation seems so far away, but in reality, it’s only in three weeks,” says West Chester University English major Kellee Liverani. “I have so much work to do before I can graduate.”
University of Pittsburgh senior Rebecca Purcell shares some of Liverani’s thoughts, along with a sense of anticipation: “I’m feeling a mix of stress and apathy. I want to pass my finals and get out of here,” she says, facetiously adding, “I may never read or write again.”
To add to the stress of the end-of-semester schoolwork, college graduation begins the time of becoming responsibile and pursuing a career, paying bills and rent, and possibly moving away from the area. Though some of these things, such as starting a career, can induce feelings of elation, they can also contribute to worrying and agonizing, culminating in post commencement stress disorder.
“Post commencement stress disorder (PCSD) is a condition emerging from a diagnosis of symptoms affecting new graduates facing the task of choosing, changing, or pursuing a career beyond the protective bubble provided by the traditional college campus,” writes Dr. Bernard Luskin in “The Media Psychology Effect.”
According to a January 2013 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, Millennial individuals aged 13 to 30 most commonly cope with stress by listening to music (60 percent), playing video games or surfing the Internet (44 percent), and reading (38 percent). However, 58 percent of Millennials “consider stress management to be important, but only one-third think they are excellent or very good at it.”
Other common ways to relax include personal writing, going for walks, working out, and having a conversation with a friend. Candles and a cup of tea or coffee can also help reduce stress levels.
Luskin offers three tips to help manage stress, specifically stress caused by PCSD: “Make a plan, keep priorities in perspective, and confront the future. ” Additionally, “no matter how bad you feel or how discouraged you become, you should do something every day to reach your goal of getting the job you want… Accepting new challenges is the prescription to motivate you out of the graduation blues,” Luskin writes.
Though college graduation is the beginning of heightened stress levels in people with PCSD, it can also signify the end of stress for those students worrying about final papers and exams. For these students, a college degree can serve as a reward for endless hours of studying and writing. “I feel like my hard work will pay off pretty soon,” Liverani says.
Julia Zakrzewski is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at JZ727170@wcupa.edu.