Student Voices
Now What? Now Anything!

Aria Shankar

By Aria Shankar
biomedical engineering junior


“So, what are your plans post-grad?”

I’ve been asked this question a million times, or at least that’s what it feels like. Graduating from college is one of the most important life milestones. It marks finally completing years of classes, transitioning into the so called “real world”, and the new beginnings of a job, graduate school or any post-grad ventures. I, for one, am impatiently awaiting the day I can unpin AccessUH from my laptop’s bookmarks bar, as well as never having to verify my login again on Duo Push.

Aria Shankar
Aria Shankar

But as excited as I am, or however prepared I may be, I am also victim to the existential “quarter life crisis” that many graduates experience, where this time we’re the ones asking ourselves, “Now what?”

Graduation anxiety is very real. Past the cap and gown photoshoots and grad party celebrations is a realm of unfamiliarity. It’s almost as though you’re a freshman student again, but this time navigating a much more mature set of circumstances, instead of the four years of college ahead of you. For some, graduation could mark the start of financial independence. It could mark moving away from home, a new city, state or even country. It could mark meeting new people and making a whole set of new friends. Perhaps it could even just mark being on your own unguided time instead of a set schedule of classes you were expected to attend every day. It is normal for changes like these to be overwhelming.

Lucky enough, adaptability is already a skill that the Class of 2023 has mastered. Having classes shift to virtual halfway through freshman spring semester, and for the entirety of our sophomore year, we’ve experienced our fair share of isolation and adjustment. It was difficult to engage in the so called “college experience” when classmates or anyone you could interact with turned into a black box on a zoom call, on a laptop screen you had to stare at for many hours a day. For me, returning back on campus for junior year felt like I was starting college all over again; re-establishing friendships that grew distant, re-learning how to take notes during in-person lectures to study successfully, and re-sparking my enthusiasm that was dampened by being at home for almost two years. However, despite all challenges, we’ve built ourselves back up stronger and are only a few months away from our finish line.

I like to think that the next 10 years will most likely be the most defining decade of our lives. From here, we begin building our careers, chasing aspirations we’ve dreamed about, and having daily applications of all the calculus equations we’ve been forced to learn. Just kidding.

Our entire academic journey has consisted of learning. Not just educational material but learning how to grow and improve from our past experiences. Just as we have progressed from semester to semester, and year to year, we will continue to advance into our post-graduation lives. Our undergraduate adventure at the University of Houston has given us a strong foundation for our future successes, and I am confident that the technical and experiential knowledge we’ve gained will carry us very far in our careers.

So maybe there’s not a straightforward, cookie-cutter answer to “Now What?” And maybe there may not be an answer altogether. But I will propose an answer to this looming rhetorical question. We will be just fine. Class of 2023, we are going to be okay! And if it that isn’t believable at the moment, be assured that we will make ourselves be okay. After all, we’ve done it throughout our entire undergraduate career, regardless of any setbacks or doubts that we may have faced. Who’s to say we can’t do it again? 

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