In her May 25th “class day” speech to graduating seniors at Harvard, comedian Amy Poehler joked that postcollege life is like “a heist that requires good drivers, an explosives expert, a hot girl who doubles as a master of disguise.” The line got some chuckles, but it also struck a nerve. For college grads, nabbing a good job in this economy may seem as far-fetched as pulling off a successful bank robbery.
For one week, VII photographer Joachim Ladefoged traveled the nation, attending six commencement ceremonies at schools in all parts of the country. From institutions like the United States Military Academy at West Point to Reed College in Portland, Ore., Ladefoged documented the stoicism, uncertainty, excitement and fear that rides along with this year’s graduating class of seniors.
Click here to read the full story in this week’s issue of TIME.