Congratulations - you made it! You have graduated from a university or are about to graduate very soon. Either way, you have made it this far. So, what's next? Life after graduation is not as straightforward as college life can be. Every recent graduate creates their own path in life.
What You Should Know
Life after graduation can be overwhelming for a young person, especially if you graduate college in your early to mid-twenties. At the same time, it can be an equally exciting new chapter in your life that you can make the most of with proper preparation. And that is exactly what this guide is here for.
Introduction to Adulthood
If you enrolled in college right after finishing high school, then like most college students, you possibly attended a University programme. As a result, although you are mature enough to be a young adult, you have yet to experience what adulthood truly is all about. Universities tend to present housing, networking, and adulthood overall as if it is a lot easier than it truly is. But what happens when you move out of your student accommodation? Or when you can no longer work part-time at the University library? That's when adulthood truly begins.
What to Look Forward to
Once you graduate from a university, your entire world will open up to new prospects, new opportunities, as well as new challenges and new obstacles. If you identify some of them, you can prepare yourself better for what you expect and don't expect.
Wrapping Up Loose Ends
Before you start thinking about what you want to do next, you must first take care of the necessary paperwork and save yourself the trouble of troubling yourself or even getting fined.
Deregister from University
Go to studielink and confirm the completion of your studies via your DigiD. Deregistration applies from the first calendar day of the month that follows. Note that the date of your deregistration is not the same as the date on which you receive your degree or diploma. In addition, if you have a secondary vocational level course diploma (MBO), you must deregister via your college, as you cannot use studielink to do it.
Cancel your Student Loan or Allowance
If you applied for student finance throughout your studies, do not forget to deregister with DUO. Just like deregistering from the university, the cancellation of your student grant/loan or allowance will also come into effect from the first calendar day of the following month. Deregister on time, or you will have to pay back the money if you are not eligible. Furthermore, check and find out the student loan amount you have to repay with DUO.
Convert your Student Bank Account
If you have a student bank account, convert it to a basic one. ABN AMRO allows you to convert your student package to a basic payment package via the mobile app. Alternatively, you might consider switching to another bank like a mobile bank due to favourable conditions at other banks. Further, you may choose to leave the Netherlands and therefore wish to cancel your account altogether.
[Recommended Reading: Banking in the Netherlands]
Move out of Student Housing
If you rented student accommodation, you must move out at the end of your studies as you cannot request an extension. Be sure to take care of your moving arrangements (packing your bags, selling or donating items you don't need, etc.) before the end date of your contract.
Leaving the Netherlands?
In case you are leaving the Netherlands, there are a few more things that you must take care of:
- Deregister from Dutch Municipality. If you are moving out, you must always inform the Municipality about your new address. Moreover, you are obliged to notify that you are leaving the country to discontinue any services provided by the government via your BSN, such as allowances.
- Close your bank account. Unless you intend to return to the Netherlands, it’s best to close your bank account. Withdraw your money in cash or transfer it to another card.
- Cancel monthly subscriptions. If you pay monthly subscriptions for Sim Only deals, bike rentals such as Swapfiets, or Dutch healthcare, don't forget to cancel them!
Have you wrapped up all loose ends? Perfect - it's time to move on to the next chapter.
If you have been renting private accommodation (i.e., non-student accommodation), you can skip this section. If, on the other hand, you need to move out of your student accommodation, it is best to begin the dreadful search for a new place as early as you can (months before your student accommodation contract expires).
Moreover, you may want to consider whether or not you wish to purchase or rent an apartment.
Finding a job can be difficult for a young graduate. You might even need to settle for a job that does not align with your degree. This adjustment can be temporary or permanent, depending on what you want to do in the long run and where your career trajectory inevitably takes you.
College Life is here to cater to both students but also graduates. To make job hunting easy, check the following resources:
For further research, check the following guides:
- Part-Time Job: The Alternative Guide to Finding One
- College Internships & Traineeships: The Complete Guide
- Entry-level Jobs: The Complete Guide
- Work in the Netherlands: The Complete Guide
- Sim Only Deals in the Netherlands: The Complete Guide 
Purchasing a Vehicle
If you are staying in the Netherlands, you might need to re-evaluate your investment in the means of transport that you use. As a student, you might have been renting a bike temporarily or using e-scooters. Now, in your life after graduation, it's time to consider purchasing a cheap bike. Owning a bike is necessary in the Netherlands, but that does not mean it should be expensive. Moreover, are you looking to make even bigger purchases like a car? Bynco (Buy Your Next Car Online) has made online car purchases easier.
Are you a foreign national?
Apply for a Zoekjaar visa! This visa allows you to live and work in the Netherlands without a work permit for one year. College Life's detailed Zoekjaar visa guide lays out the details of it, including its benefits and the step-by-step application process.
Inspiration and passion are born from taking risks. Challenging yourself helps you see how far you can go and understand your limits. Living a life after graduation is a risk you are bound to face. So, why not push the boundaries a bit further?
It is no secret that travelling has plenty of benefits: it broadens the mind, opens up your world to new opportunities, gives you unique experiences, and enriches your life with unforgettable moments. Further, scientifically proven benefits include a boost to your creativity and happiness and a decreased risk of depression. Travelling provides room for self-reflection, a deeper understanding of how the world works, and a clearer vision of what you want for yourself. Take advantage of it while you can! If you are not from the EU/EEA and are planning to visit European universities, here's how you can get travel insurance.
Are you feeling confident enough to launch your own business?? With its Ambitious Entrepreneurship Action Plan, the Netherlands strongly supports foreign entrepreneurs who wish to enter the Dutch business market. If you're not from the EU/EEA, you can also explore the benefits of a startup visa.
College Life provides you with resources to start your own venture: Lean Canvas: The Complete Guide to Launching Your Venture
Managing your Finances
Risks are best when rational decision-making and planning become their driving forces - such risks are called calculated risks. Be mindful of your budget, your expenses, and the risks that you take.
- Create a budgeting journal
- Use a planner to shortlist goals you aim to achieve
- Prioritize your tasks and goals using the Eisenhower Matrix
Failure is an inevitable outcome of choices and risks that you take. However, this shouldn't stop you from making choices. Failing is a learning experience that helps you understand yourself and your preferences as you move forward in your life.
Career Path Unrelated to Your Degree
Diverting from the career path that your college degree has paved for you may not always be a decision that you want to make. Certain circumstances may require you to choose something different to avoid unemployment or underemployment (working a job that does not need a university degree). Unfortunately, recent college graduates struggling to find fulfilling jobs, or jobs that correlate to their degree, have been a common phenomenon since the 2001 recession that brought a sharp decline in economic activity. Therefore, failure can be something completely out of your control. Once you understand it, you can think of creative ways to overcome it.
Giving Up on Lifelong Dreams
If you are anxious about not meeting your goals, don't be afraid to ditch them for new ones. Giving up on dreams and plans that no longer work for you is not necessarily the definition of failure, even though it may seem that way. Remember that external factors such as unemployment, lack of resources, and limited possibilities contribute to your "failures"; some are simply beyond your control. However, what is up to you is the ability to persevere. Don't see it as “giving up” on old dreams. You are merely making room for new ones by pivoting, just like startups often do.
Failure is a crucial step in anyone's life, including in students' life after graduation. Overcoming it is not simple, but it is certainly not impossible either.
Acknowledging Who You Are
Take the time to discover who you are as a person. The question doesn't have to be answered within a few minutes or overnight. Let it sit for a while and ponder the question: Who are you? When you begin answering, you will find clarity in who you are and what you truly want.
Career expert Ashley Stahl, in her TED talk, talks about the need to do a self-audit . More specifically, she encourages everyone to ask themselves the questions:
- Where are you holding yourself captive?
- What do you know that you wish you didn't know?
Acknowledging Your Strengths
When it comes to failure, you tend to reflect and see what you did wrong. Another way to work around it is to evaluate what you can do right. Note down your skills, look for things you are passionate about, and acknowledge the challenges you can solve.
Ashley Stahl advises following your freedom, where she calls for everyone to pay attention to what feels good to them as a means of setting themselves free. Start by noting down all your ideas and ask for feedback on them from your body's reaction to them:
- Do your thoughts bring you joy or fear?
- Do you feel expansion or contraction?
- Does it generate excitement or dread?
- Does it feel liberating or suffocating?
Another recommendation is the joy journal, where for 30 days, you write down every instance of your day that makes you feel joy, no matter how insignificant it may seem. After 30 days, go back and notice whether there are patterns that you can replicate.
Become an active alumnus. Universities invest a lot in building alumni networks, so why not use them? Your alumni association offers multiple benefits that you should take advantage of. After all, universities should make your career prospects easier for you, and networking is one of the best ways to amplify this effect.
Now and then, life throws you into a situation where you feel like there is nobody you can turn to. Do not underestimate your friends and family's support. However, do not overestimate what they can offer to you either. If you need it and don't already have it, try to seek emotional support through therapy. Do not fall victim to the post-college therapy void of feeling helpless because you lack support.
If you need legal assistance or any other help, get in touch.