Los Angeles — As my undergraduate graduation approached this past May, I saw more articles and social media posts about post-grad depression. I was applying to graduate school and thought I could outrun this bleakness. I was wrong.
Due to the pandemic, I started my major courses and decided that furthering my education and pursuing a master's in journalism would really help me hone my skills. In addition, I thought the time spent in grad school would provide me with another chance to try to make up for time lost from the pandemic. Also there was the opportunity to enjoy another campus, join clubs and try to be social again after years of isolation and Zoom interaction. As a former HBCU grad, I was comfortable and wanted to keep it in the family and go to another one. But literally, nothing could prepare me for how alone grad school felt.
Quickly I learned just how different undergraduate was from graduate school, and I slowly but surely started to feel depression and anxiety creep upon me. There were a few things I wish I had considered or even asked before committing to an institution. While I did visit about three campuses overall, I bet on myself and applied to one program.
My program only had night courses which instantly made me worry due to not knowing anyone and being in a new city. Being alone also made it hard for me to participate in events happening on campus like homecoming events, movie nights and events from campus organizations. My program is also very small, like counting everyone on one hand. The small program could have worked in my favor, for example, being to know my teachers and classmates on a deeper level. But, it can also work against me when it comes to really socializing and getting out there. I was the only one of my classmates to move across the country, from Los Angeles to Baltimore. I was trying to acclimate, but a feeling that was very familiar started to creep up — being homesick.
It was difficult for me to find my place on campus; graduate school started feeling like I was truly doing everything by myself. I didn't have an advisor to help me pick classes or to help me ensure that I was on the right track. I learned how to advocate for myself in undergrad, but this was a new ballpark.
Eventually, I had to put my mental health over my grades for once. I came home for a week, which turned into a month. Struggling with depression and anxiety is not easy, but going to therapy has made the process easier. Now I have created a new plan after falling behind. I feel more prepared and successful for the semesters to come. Just know that grad school may not be the solution to escaping post-grad depression. Being depressed after undergrad is normal, and okay. Take time to adjust to a change in life and give yourself grace.