What Not To Say To A New College Grad

Ah... graduating college... For those of us who have been there, we know first hand about all the mixed feelings and array of emotions that impact a person at this time in their life. For folks on the outside or even people who have college graduation far away in their rearview mirror, it's easy to look at someone who's just gotten their diploma and think about how exciting this time is and how much they have ahead of them. For the grads, themselves, though, this time is downright scary.

In 2022, college student debt is at an all time high, and college student mental health is at an all time low (via Earth Web). It's safe to say, as a result, that many recent college grads are not in the best state of mind while preparing to embark on this next phase in life. Now as the summer is wrapping up, and those graduation parties are all behind them, a dreaded reality is setting in for folks who just threw their caps in the air at their college graduation. It's time to get out into the "real world," as they say, and that can be intimidating (via Woman's Day). No matter how old you are or where you're graduating from, graduation — more often than not — is a bittersweet experience. Hearing something helpful during this time can mean a lot. Consequently, it's important to know what you shouldn't say to someone who has just graduated, as well as words of advice that may help.

The things you should never say

No matter who they are or what their situation is, freshly minted college grads are under a ton of pressure. Remember this when you're about to talk to them about life post-grad. Avoid things that will add to that pressure in any way. This includes specific questions about what's coming next, like, "What are you going to do now?" or "Have you gotten a job?" It's completely understandable if you want to ask questions like this; the answers could be exciting, and you want to be engaged with the person you're talking to. Yet, more often than not, a new college grad doesn't have answers to these questions, and not having answers can be anxiety-inducing.

Never ask a new college grad about their living situation, either (via Woman's Day). No matter how common and often wise it is, it carries a stigma for young adults to move in with their parents after college; don't make them talk about it. If there's something exciting on the career front or in terms of their living situation, they'll offer it up freely during your conversation. There's no reason to make them feel like they have to. Lastly, don't reminisce about how college was the best time in your life, how much you wish you could go back, or how quickly you got a job after graduation. Many people have a great time in college, but there is so much ahead and great experiences to be had post-grad. Don't make them feel otherwise.

What you should say to support the grad in your life

Sometimes in the changes and excitement for what's to come, we forget to take in the present moment and reflect on what an accomplishment graduating college really is. According to Earth Web, 30% of college students drop out during their freshman year. Congratulate the graduate on all their hard work and perseverance. Getting to where they are today is a huge accomplishment, and that shouldn't be overshadowed by questions of what's next.

Offer some comforting words like, "You've got all the time in the world," or "This is going to be such a fun time for you." It takes most people a long time after they're out of school to land somewhere where they're really fulfilled and content. Don't be afraid to remind them of this; it's not something they hear often. Offering up the notion that this is the beginning of something exciting, rather than the end will work wonders no matter how the graduate is feeling. Depending on your relationship with the graduate, it's always nice to let them know how proud of them you are or tell them that you can't wait to see what they do next (via Hallmark).