By Kristen Roman, CBT/DBT Associates Director of the Young Adult Program

The period after college graduation while searching for a job can be an aimless, frustrating time. For many, it can be challenging to lose the natural social network, activities, and purpose that life as a college student offers. After having relatively well-defined goals for the first 22 years or so of their lives, many feel lost without the comfort of their identity as a student. Frequent rejections from jobs can make young adults question the purpose of their degree and doubt their capabilities. Once starting a job, some young adults find it difficult to fit in self-care activities like exercise and seeing friends, no longer having the abundance of unstructured time that college life offers to take care of these needs. New “adulting” challenges arise, such as cooking for yourself instead of relying on a college cafeteria, and managing finances. Some struggle with organization and keeping up with deadlines without the resources and structure that homework and exam deadlines create.


Group of Diverse International Students Celebrating Graduation


Another challenge for many young adults is making a transition back to living at home with parents as way to save money. A study in 2016 showed that 42% of young people in New York City were living with parents post-college. For both young adults and parents, it can be challenging to balance the young adult’s newfound independence with the limits that parents feel entitled to set while their child is living under their roof. 


Young Man on Sofa with Parents


Having worked with many young adults going through this transition, I have found a few patterns in terms of what has helped these individuals navigate this period of time more easily. While waiting to land a job out of college, many find it helpful to establish activities to increase short-term feelings of mastery and productivity. Whether it’s getting a part-time job, volunteering, or challenging themselves with a language or cooking class, short-term feelings of accomplishment can lead to greater confidence in interviews and greater productivity with applying to jobs. I also encourage young adults to seek out ways to meet other young people in the same situation, by joining Meetup groups, book clubs, alumni organizations, etc. 


It can also be helpful for parents and young adults to have open discussions about the guidelines around living at home again, rather than assuming the old rules from high school still work. This can be done on their own, or with the help of a therapist. Parents and children can benefit from trying to view the situation from the other side’s perspective and working to find a middle path between what each feels is “right” in terms of level of communication, household responsibilities, curfew, etc.  








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