Colleges prepare students for post-graduation

Going back to Chicago to work for a year is what Alyce Horowitz plans to do after college.

Like many graduating seniors this year, the Illinois native said she is moving back home because she doesn’t have any money. Horowitz, who is graduating in May from the University of Maryland, College Park, also hopes to figure out her post-graduation options.

One option would be to get a job in the mental services field and see if that would be a good career choice. Her other option would be to start applying to graduate school, she said.

“I feel like it’s going to be a really different transition…going into the world and figuring life out is kind of challenging, so I’m kind of scared,” she said.

However, colleges have recently created more programs to help make entering the “real world” a little easier.

Many universities in the Washington area have been holding events and classes to help graduating seniors transition smoothly.

Nicole DeLoatch, an academic advisor at the University of Maryland’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, teaches the course “Major Transitions: From Undergraduate to Professional” for sociology majors. The course, which has been around for about 10 years and is taught in all of the college’s departments, is really good for students, she said.

In the course, students learn about finances, how to write resumes and cover letters, and they have to go on informational interviews in an industry they would like to work in, she said.

She also teaches students about good credit and has the students pull their credit reports to help them understand what they mean, she said.

UMD, like many other colleges and universities, also has a career center and alumni organizations to assist students with the next phase in their lives.

One part of adulthood that Candace Dawson wished she had known about in undergrad is how to handle finance charges and interest rates.

A graduate student at The George Washington University’s School of Public Policy and Public Administration, Dawson said she’s about $40,000 in debt from student loans. It would have been $70,000 with graduate school if she hadn’t found a job on campus, she said. She also has a large car loan and recently paid $6,000 to clear most of her five credit cards.

“I will be paying these for the rest of my life,” Dawson said. “I took out all these credit cards to pay for school expenses. They were really easy to get because they were always shoved in your face when you’re in undergrad.:

One school that has given more of a focus to the financial transition that graduates face is Georgetown University.

Georgetown offers financial literacy workshops that covered topics such as credit cards, repaying loans and savings. This year’s workshop series came in response to a high interest from the students.

Last year was the series’ first year and “questions kept coming all night long,” said
William Godwin, a senior sociology major at Georgetown who helped organize the series.

At The George Washington University, students can turn to places such as the Student Activities Center, Career Center and the Alumni House for guidance.

Throughout the year, various campus committees hold events such as Grad Week that help students understand the worlds of healthcare benefits, savings, buying a home and more.

The Student Activities Center’s Web site has a post-graduation guide called “I Will Survive.” The guide, which originally started out as a workshop, covers topics from finding a career to buying a car.

Grace Henry, assistant director of the center and organizer of the “I Will Survive” series, noticed that as students become more and more technologically dependent, they don’t come to the events, she said. That’s why she put the series online.

Although the resources are out there, many seniors find themselves looking for time to attend the events.

“I have been to the career center…but I haven’t really talked to anyone about [other post-graduation issues] because this last semester has been busy,” Horowitz said. “I just say that I’ll deal with it as it comes…I’m trying to hold on to what’s happening now.”

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