Nostalgia for the good ol' (college) days

| Originally Published: June 23, 2006
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Alice,

I have graduated from college with an associate's degree in 2002. I loved college a lot, especially the whole social scene. It was a great time to really learn more about yourself and others and to finally have freedom. Now I sort of feel nostalgic about my days at college, and sometimes wish I could go back to that time which I know is quite impossible. My question is this normal for people and why would people feel that way.
Dear Reader,

It sounds like your college experience was really positive. It makes sense that you would look back on it fondly and maybe even want to go back. You’re certainly not alone! Think of all the energy people spend planning and attending get-togethers like high school and college reunions. Those are important times in many people’s lives for the very reasons you mention. Traditionally, college is a time when people are exploring and solidifying their own identities, developing independence, and forming strong bonds with other people. Plus, it’s often a unique opportunity to have a ready-made community of people with common goals.

Transitioning from college can be difficult for a number of reasons. Many new graduates have to build new social networks, find a new job, establish relationships with co-workers or new friends, change living situations, and/or even move to a new town. All of these things can be stressful, to say the least. Also, people’s expectations for you may be different, and you may have a lot more responsibility. In the face of all of this, college days may feel relatively carefree in comparison to the "real world." Hence, the nostalgia.

If you are having a hard time adjusting to life post-graduation, you might think about ways to replicate the positive aspects of college in new forms. If you miss the intellectual stimulation, maybe you could take a class or join a book group. If you miss the social scene, maybe you could join a sports team, theatre troupe, or some other group with a high level of camaraderie.

While completely recreating your college experience probably isn’t possible, it’s natural to feel nostalgic about important parts of your past. If you put your mind to it, however, you may be able to build some of the things you liked about college into your present life.

Alice