The transition between student life and the “real” world can be a very difficult one. Many students find themselves unable to cope with the responsibility, the lack of structure and the complete change of scenery that graduating from university thrusts upon them.
According to Statistics Canada (Stat Can), the national unemployment rate for people between ages 15 and 24 is double the national average (7.4 per cent), at 14.7 per cent. Finding jobs is growing increasingly harder as 27,000 fewer young people are working compared to this time last year.
Katherine Vaughan, a recent graduate who is now working in the health care field, has some advice for grads. “Getting a job was the first challenge. A lot of people think a job will just fall into their lap and it is definitely not that easy,” she says, “Jobs are scarce and you need to use who you know. Don’t expect it to happen overnight.”
Many students also face financial hardship after graduation. According to Stat Can data from 2005, 57 per cent of graduates had student loan debt, averaging $18,800.
As soon as a student graduates, interest starts to accumulate on provincial and federal loans, and he/she is required to start making payments six months after graduation. This can be tough for a lot of students, but there are a few repayment resources many people don’t know about.
The Timely Completion Benefit is a program sponsored by the provincial government to encourage students to finish school in a timely manner. If a student completes his/her degree in the minimum amount of time allotted for that program (four years for a Bachelor’s degree for example), a portion of their loan over a threshold of $26,000 can be forgiven.
The Canadian government also offers a program called The Repayment Assistance Program. This program helps graduates to repay their loans by capping the amount of time a person can owe on student loan debts and tailoring a repayment plan based on a person’s income and family situation.
Even with these programs, many students are facing difficulty repaying their debts. According to the department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, the default rate for student loans in 2008-2009 was 13.3 per cent in N.B.
Another major change between university life and working life is the freedom to plan your own schedule. Many students are able to work around morning classes, or they’re able to take a certain day of the week off. Students also certainly enjoy their weekends. With many jobs, especially the typical nine to five, 40 hour work week, there is no room for hitting the snooze button or skipping work “just this once.” For many recent grads, one of the best skills to learn (if they haven’t already in university) is time management. “I definitely do not have as much free time as when I was a student,” says Vaughan, “I just learned to enjoy and appreciate it and I don’t just waste it away any more!”
Even though the “real world” seems harsh and unforgiving, many students are able to preserver and succeed after graduation. “Things can change at any second,” says Vaughan. “Part of being an adult in the real world is being ready to deal with anything it throws your way, on your own.”