LIFE AFTER GRADUATION [2021]
THE COMPLETE GUIDE

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. 

A girl looking at the College Life International Student Guide

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CHAPTER 1:

The Fundamentals

Life after graduation can be an overwhelming moment in a young person’s life, 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 for.

life after graduation begins

Introduction to Adulthood

If you enrolled in college right after finishing high school, then you are part of the majority of college students who 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 have a tendency of presenting housing, networking, and overall, adulthood 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 a part-time job 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  both for what you expect, and what you don’t.

CHAPTER 2:

Wrapping Up Loose Ends

Before you start thinking about what it is that you want to do next, you must first take care of important paperwork and save yourself the trouble of troubling yourself or even getting fined.  

girl checking off to-do list to prepare for life after graduation

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 date as the one 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, make sure to deregister with DUO. Just like with deregistering from 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, otherwise you will have to pay back money that you are not eligible. Furthermore, check with DUO and find out how much student loan you need to pay back.

Convert your Student Bank Account

If you have a student bank account, make sure to convert it to a basic one. ABN AMRO allows you to convert your student package via the mobile app to a basic payment package. Alternatively, you might consider switching to another bank due to favorable 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’s a few more things that you must take care of:

  • Deregister from Dutch Municipality. In case of moving out, you must always inform the Municipality about your new address. Moreover, you are obliged to inform that you are leaving the country to discontinue any services that are provided to you by the government via your BSN such as allowances
  • Close your bank account. Unless you intend to return to the Netherlands, it’s best that you close your bank account. Withdraw your money in cash or transfer it to another card.
  • Cancel monthly subscriptions. If you pay monthly subscriptions, either for sim only, bike rentals such as Swapfiets, or Dutch healthcare, don't forget to cancel them!

CHAPTER 3:

New Commitments

Have you wrapped up all loose ends? Perfect - it’s time to move on to the next chapter.

girl finding new aspirations in life after graduation

House Hunting

If you have been renting private accommodation (i.e., non-student accommodation), chances are you can skip this step. 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 want to purchase or rent an apartment.  

Job Hunting

Finding as a young alumni can be difficult. You might even need to settle for a job that does not align with your degree. This can either be temporary or permanent, depending on what you want you 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 easier, check the following resources:

For further research, check the following guides:

Note: If you are going to start working in the Netherlands, you must take out a Dutch health insurance. Once you do, you can apply for a healthcare allowance

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. Having a bike is a necessity in the Netherlands, but that does not mean it should be expensive. Moreover, are you looking to make bigger purchases such as buying a car? Bynco (Buy Your Next Car Online) has made online car purchases easier than ever before. 

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 as well as the step-by-step application process.

CHAPTER 4:

Taking Risks

Inspiration and passion are born from taking risks. Challenging yourself helps you see how far you can go as well as understand your limits. Living a life after graduation is a risk in itself that you are bound to face. So, why not push the boundaries a bit further?

girl taking a big step in life after graduation

Travel

It is no secret that traveling is packed with plenty of benefits: it broadens the mind, it opens up your world to new opportunities, it gives you unique experiences, and it enriches your life with unforgettable moments. Further, scientifically proven benefits include a boost of your creativity and happiness, as well as a decreased risk of depression. Traveling provides the  room for self-reflection, a deeper understanding of the way the world works, and a clearer vision of what you want for yourself. Take advantage of it while you can!

NOTE: Due to COVID-19, you’ll likely have to postpone travelling. However, a walk through the nearest park or forest can be a great short-term alternative to the current restrictions. Make use of any means you have to get out of the comfort of your home and explore places you haven’t visited before. 

Self-employment

Are you feeling confident enough to launch your own business?? With its Ambitious Entrepreneurship Action Plan, the Netherlands is a proud supporter of foreign entrepreneurs that 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:

Managing your Finances

Risks are best taken when rational decision-making and planning become their driving forces - these are called calculated risks.  Be mindful of your budget, your expenses, and the risks that you take. 

CHAPTER 5:

Understanding Failure

Failure is an inevitable outcome of certain 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 the choices you make as you move forward with your life. 

girl understanding fears of life after graduation

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 where a university degree is not required). Unfortunately, recent college graduates struggling to find fulfilling jobs or jobs that correlate to their degree has been a common phenomenon since the 2001 Recession that brought a major decline in economic activity. Therefore, failure can be something completely out of your control. Once you understand it, you can begin to 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 factors are simply beyond your control. However, what is completely 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.

CHAPTER 6:

Overcoming Failure

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.

graduate stepping up even after failure

Acknowledging Who You Are 

Take the time to discover who you are as a person. The question does not need to be answered within the span of a few minutes or overnight. Let it sit for a while and ponder the question: Who are you? As you begin to answer it, you will find clarity in not only who you are but also in what you truly want. 

Career expert Ashley Stahl talks about the need to do a self-audit at her recent TED talk. 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 it is 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 are able to solve.  

Ashley Stahl advises to follow 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: 

  • Does your idea 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.

Networking

Become an active alumnus. Universities invest a lot in building alumni networks, so why not make use of it? Your alumni association offers a lot of 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.

Seeking Support

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 and seek out emotional support through therapy. Do not fall victim of the post-college therapy void of feeling helpless because you lack support. 

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