College is a bubble. So, what happens after graduation? Well, that bubble bursts. Suddenly, that protected world that you’ve known for four years is no longer there. You are suddenly tossed out into the real world.
Twice in my life, I left college. And twice in my life, I was no longer in that college bubble, forced to live on the outside with no communal showers and surrounded by a random assortment of kids. But most importantly of all, both times, I was forced to face the reality of student loans, getting a job and adjusting to life after school.
Having been part of the thousands of kids who go to college right after high school, it is hard to envision a life in which the world of academia does not exist. I’ve been in school for nearly my entire life. However much I might complain about the unfairness of grading and classes and professors, at the end of the day, it is undeniable that I start to miss it.
I miss taking classes that may or may not have anything to do with my degree. I’ve taken Greek Mythology and Writing Poems even though I am not a Classical Studies or Creative Writing major. I’ve taken so many German courses that I’d like to say that I’m nearly fluent. I simply took those classes because I wanted to. College presented an opportunity to take those classes that my high school might not have offered due to limited budgets. And, I admit, once I got to college, I embraced it.
The same goes for extracurricular activities. At college, I could join the Yearbook Club or the LGBTQ club or whatever. At college, I could take or do whatever I wanted to (as long as it was legal, of course). Indeed, what separates college from high school is the freedom to choose. The freedom to be independent. But, of course, with that freedom comes a certain responsibility. That responsibility is our first foray into adulthood. Some of us embrace it. While for the rest of us, it might take awhile…
But however long it takes, we all grow up in college. College is designed to test us. To test our strengths and weaknesses. To connect us with new people. To allow us to grow in a way that we never conceived of in high school.
But sooner than you think, college is soon over. You put on your graduation cap and gown and walk across that stage to get your diploma. But just because you receive your diploma does not mean that the growth has to stop. Instead, use college as a starting off point to continue learning and growing.
Getting your college diploma signifies that you accomplished four years of college education. It signifies that you have the discipline to study with no immediate gratification. After all, there is no guarantee that a college degree will get you rich.
But once you get your college diploma, you discover that the real work is yet to begin. You have to find a job. Hopefully, you find a lucrative opportunity in your industry. Hopefully, you will rise up within your company in the next ten years and become an industry thought leader.
Or, you might end up working as a barista at Starbucks or retail clerk for a few years working minimum wage, while relentlessly filling out job applications. You might have to work two jobs just to pay your rent, car payments and student loan payments.
But eventually, you will launch your career. It’s not going to be easy. I daresay that it might even be hard. But who said that life is easy? And those four years of all-nighters at college will be worth it.
But until then, we hope. Whatever we majored in, whatever experiences we had in college, we are all driven by the same ambition: to find a well-paying job and be a worthwhile member of this complex and intricate society.