In order to ease the transition from school to the real world, West Virginia University Extension Service experts are offering guidance.

“It surprises many graduates that they have mixed emotions during a time that’s supposed to be celebratory. Instead, this time is often wrought with worries about where their lives will go next,” said Jane Riffe, Ph.D., a licensed clinical social worker and WVU Extension specialist.

Riffe says the phenomenon is often referred to as post-commencement stress disorder. New graduates often feel worried that they have a lack of support, both emotionally and financially.

According to Riffe, common symptoms of post-graduation stress include sleeplessness, irritability, avoiding social situations and fearing the future. Adding to these pressures can be the shift in family dynamics when many new graduates move back home until they find employment.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 53 percent of 18 to 24 year olds lived or are living with their parents. Riffe said the best way to avoid conflict is to establish boundaries, keep an open mind and talk openly about money.

“Even in a state such as West Virginia, which leads the nation in public school financial education programming, many graduates are still unprepared now that personal financial planning is their responsibility,” said Ron Hatfield, WVU Extension family financial specialist. “New graduates often turn the ‘American Dream’ into the ‘American Nightmare’ when they throw all of those first paychecks into buying new cars and a home. This adds up quickly, and when paired with student loan debt, it can take 40 to 50 years to move beyond that amount of spending.”

Hatfield suggests focusing first on paying down debts from college and saving enough money in an emergency fund to cover six to nine months of expenses.

For more information on family finances or emotional wellness, visit the WVU Extension Service Families and Health webpage at

Connecting the people of West Virginia to the University’s resources and programs is the primary goal of WVU Extension Service and its 55 offices throughout the state. Local experts, like WVU Extension’s agents and specialists, work to help improve the lifestyles and well-being of youths, workforces, communities, farms and businesses through trusted research in the counties in which they serve.

To learn more about WVU Extension programs, visit, or contact your local office of the WVU Extension Service.



CONTACT: Cassie Waugh, WVU Extension Service

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