Are you a senior in college and don’t exactly know where to go or what to do after graduation? Hey, me too! The sheltered college life and the “real world” are two very different stages of life and we hope to make that transition easier.

In case we haven’t met, I’m Susan! I’m the intern at the Office of Young Adult Ministry, and I’ve been incredibly blessed to get to know a lot of you throughout the summer.

In a little less than a month, I will be a senior at Benedictine College (#ravenswillsoar). A SENIOR. Let me tell you how I feel about that:

The emotions I feel when thinking of this year cannot be contained in a few sentences because I know that it will be a whirlwind of a year.

But isn’t this what every college student is thinking? Aren’t we all confused of where to go and what to do after graduation? I can honestly say that I do not feel prepared to go from my college campus to the “real world”.

Being a college student and being a young adult are two different stages of life, and fresh college graduates often struggle with finding their place in the young adult community. Since I am a college student, I thought that I’d also get some advice from a young adult in our community. Mary Staten gave me some ideas of how to make the transition from being a college student to a young adult. Here are a few tips for transitioning college graduates.

1. Be prepared for a major lifestyle shift.

We’re busy college students. Our lives are all about “what am I doing next?” and planning something for every hour of the day. We’re juggling classes, friends, sports practices, school club meetings, study groups, meals, part-time jobs, and sleep schedules all at the same time. Everything is up in the air, and it feels like there never really is a definite plan for each day.

So how does that compare to the future? After college, we all hope for a full-time job right away to get us started at paying off those crazy college loans. This can be quite the shift from a busy college student life. Our jobs might be asking us to sit at a desk from 9 to 5 and work, leaving only a couple of hours at night to meet up with friends, cook ourselves a meal, and then sleep. Then the next day, we’re asked to do it all over again! It’s a pretty different lifestyle, right?

Mary’s advice was to get to know your coworkers! Most of them have been in the workplace for a while and will be happy to help your transition into this new lifestyle. Work is different than school, and it’s easy to make a friend at work to show you “the ways around the office”.

2. Make friends where you’re at.

Leaving college friends behind is going to be difficult (I’m cringing right now thinking about it). We’ve lived with, studied with, ate with, cried with, and laughed with these people for the past four years of your life. And that’s all being torn away from us?

Well, not necessarily. The friendships that really matter will still carry on, just not as closely as they have been in our college years.

But guess what! It’s okay to make new friends. Our college friends are moving on and so are we. We need friends around us who are in this stage of life. So go out and meet people! There are an estimated 80,000-120,000 young adults Catholics in St. Louis – who wouldn’t want that many friends?? Okay, maybe we can’t have them all as friends, but they’re prominent in the Archdiocese of St. Louis! Go to a Theology on Tap, find out if a parish has a young adult group, go to a retreat, volunteer to do service, go to a happy hour, or participate in a Bible study! Or if you feel so inclined, then start your own small group! Opportunities are endless in a community of people with the same standards and goals.

3. Find your parish.

So many young adults hop around parishes because they’re connected at different ones through different friends and don’t feel quite ready to call one “home”.  By working in the Office of Young Adult Ministry, I have learned how important it is to invest in a parish. After college, you have a unique opportunity to establish yourself. You’ve come from your spiritual home at school and you can make your parish your new spiritual home. You will be able to take on leadership roles and make yourself accessible directly to the community. You can affect change and make an impact on the Church as a whole. Other parishioners would love to have a new voice in their crowd because they want input from someone they see as invested. And through all of this, you can start building a parish that you want to call home.

4. Discern your personal apostolate.

A lot of people who graduate from college don’t know their vocation… and that’s okay! A vocation is a lot to figure out, so what can we do right now to work towards it? A personal apostolate is a calling to use the talents and charisms God gave you to work towards the common good. Maybe we’re called to serve on mission, to care for our grandparents, to volunteer in a nursing home, or to live with our parents for a year.

Recently, Lauren Scharmer gave an excellent talk on “Love in the Waiting” and how God works in us through the waiting and silence in our lives. God gives us the time to grow in virtue, recognize our passions and strengths, and discover our vocations through our personal apostolate. We need to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance in using our talents to glorify the One who gave us everything.

Sr. Liz Sjoberg wrote a blog about helping young adults in transition. We all struggle with finding our call and Sr. Liz is telling us there we are not alone.

Mary Staten also gave her recommendations of how young adults can discern their personal apostolates in her recent interview.

5. Run to Him.

No matter what kind of changes life is throwing at us right now, there’s one thing that remains constant – Jesus Christ. The Lord is calling us to cling to Him throughout these changes in our lives. We tend to run to other people and friends at our lowest points, but what keeps us from reaching out to Christ?

Whatever new schedule we’re adapting to, we need to set aside some time to go to daily Mass, confession, or to the chapel for one-on-one conversation with the Lord.

He’s calling us – run to Him.