Pandemic Panic: What To Do After Graduation?


When we are going through our school days, we often perceive it as one of the most stressful times of our lives. The tsunami of unthinkably complex tasks, assignments and long-drawn-out projects that we must complete can push us to our emotional, physical and psychological ends.

Nevertheless, time stops for no one, and soon we realise that our school days are numbered. Our minds enter a state of flow; we focus strictly on cramming a planet’s worth of information into our brains to get the best grade on the final exams and graduate from school once and for all.

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Very soon, the month of May will be upon us, the very month that most university students will be graduating. Graduating during a pandemic is a peculiar event and you might be experiencing something far off the beaten track of the past graduates. Perhaps, you may think that COVID-19 will not affect your career prospects because in the end, you still graduated. However, the current pandemic paradigm may have unseen consequences for graduates.

The inability to wrap up your school life in the typical fashion of a convocation ceremony, along with time off to spend with friends and family may leave us feeling somewhat incomplete. You may feel a strange sense of confusion and disbelief that you have officially moved to a new phase in your life.

Similar to that of social relationships, an abrupt end to our relationship with our school lives can create a motivation to achieve cognitive closure. This may have an effect on the way we process information that produces changes to the alteration, formation or dissolution of our knowledge. Thus, affecting the way we may think, feel, act or even talk to others.

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This need for closure trickles down to form two tendencies: 1) The tendency to preserve our past knowledge, and 2) The tendency to safeguard our future knowledge. The tendency to preserve our past knowledge and safeguard future knowledge may lead us to process less information and formulate fewer competing hypotheses before we commit to a judgement. Even though these judgements may not be theoretically grounded, we may, nevertheless, be very well assured that they are correct. The need for closure has numerous potential effects too, such as increasing our potential for consensus and consistency bias, global attributions for our failures, increased tendency to be persuaded and many more. This shows the importance of events, such as convocation or graduation ceremonies, that helps us bring about closure to our student lives.

With such a multitude of detrimental effects that clinches our need for closure, we would all be asking ourselves, what can we do to dissipate its effects? Thankfully, generously dusted across the internet are different methods to manage our need for closure. A consensus among them is summarised into these five methods shown below:

1.     Take time to have a self-dialogue to find out what questions you need answered and what those answers are.

2.     Give yourself time and space to feel, internalise and understand the emotions of the end of the event or relationship.

3.     Have a strength-focused and future-oriented thinking.

4.     Create plans for the immediate future.

5.     Create a ritual or celebration to mark the end of this event.

Through any of these five methods, we can finally move towards our much-needed closure. Marking the end of our schooling lives and graduating into a new phase of life without any strings remaining attached. Only then, can we be fully prepared to take the next step to see what a new chapter holds.

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Written by Ng Xinyao

Ng Xinyao is a psychology graduate from NTU. A writer for hobby to advocate for greater awareness of mental health issues in Asia, he has a research interest in neuropsychology. On the flip side, Xinyao enjoys reading manga, playing puzzle games and the guitar.