Graduating from college is an accomplishment worth celebrating. But why is the graduation party so often followed by a hangover? (Not that kind.) Although most students feel elation at the prospect of entering the “real world” after 17 years of school, the decision about what comes next can also be paralyzing. Pressure from parents and peers can lead to anxiety, and many grads who don’t have a clear sense of direction continue to party through their 20s without figuring out what they actually want to do

This infographic may help you to navigate the professional and psychological pitfalls of post-grad life:

Life After Graduation= Brought to you by USC Social Work Graduate Programs

Do I Need to Go To Grad School?

Not every career requires a graduate degree. In the health care sector, you can earn a good living in plenty of jobs that require only two- or four-year degrees, like a dental hygienist. Some fields, like social work, a graduate degree is a requirement for licensure, while in others, like computer science, a graduate degree can help you to snag a higher starting salary.

The decision to return to school shouldn’t just be about money. It should also be about stimulating yourself intellectually and finding work that you really care about. A graduate program can open up a wide variety of career options that are fulfilling both monetarily and personally.

Taking the Next Steps

Don’t allow yourself to become mired in anxiety or depression about the future if you can help it. Consider what you need to do to make yourself happy and to move forward with your life. Allow going back to school to open doors for you or find a fulfilling job that doesn’t require a master’s degree.

Regardless of whether or not you decide to go to graduate school, it’s important to consider your options and find a sense of direction after graduation. Completing college should be a milestone in your educational and professional life that you look back on proudly.

This post is by NSCS partner 2U and the University of Southern Calfornia. Visit to learn more about USC’s virtual master’s programs.