As the particularly insightful might have gathered from the title, I’m done. I just gave my final presentation, on my final paper, in my final class at Linfield. I presented my quantitative research on the underlying causes of the current democracy protests in the Middle East (executive summary: unemployment and corruption). People laughed. No one cried. And my professor was generally impressed. A fitting end to four amazing years at this school. It some ways, I’m nostalgic about my time here and would love to stay for four more years. And I won’t pretend that the unknown awaiting me isn’t unsettling. But in the vast majority of ways, I am ready to go!
As those not long removed from a college campus will remember, talking about graduation any time after spring break is a touchy subject. At minimum, you’ll likely get nervous chuckles and, at worst, you’ll be silenced by angry glares and informed, “we’re not going to talk about that.” It gets added to the List of Things Not Spoken of in Polite Company – right behind abortion and bowel movements. I think what is so terrifying about graduation is it’s the first time most traditional college students have really faced the unknown. At the conclusion of high school, most of us knew our options by April 1st (or sooner) and had made our decision by May 1st – four whole months before any change would happen! And even if we hadn’t, few students were in the situation of being homeless 24 hours after their high school graduation. Leaving college is different. Instead of going from school to different school, you go from school to work. And instead of switching from living with your parents to living on campus, you go from living on campus to finding an apartment and paying rent and utilities on a monthly basis. And, as Residence Life makes very clear – you are homeless at noon on Monday.
But despite all of these reasons to panic, I am greeting graduation with enthusiasm. It’s not that I yearn to leave – even if some professors don’t love me as much as I love Linfield. But the point of college is to leave, so I don’t understand a desire to stay. I think of it like money – there is no intrinsic value in accumulating money. The point is to spend it. With the same logic, why accumulate an education if you’re not going to use it? Admittedly, some of my calm comes from having a job lined up and an apartment squared away. But I think, even if I didn’t have those things, I’d be okay. Because college has taught me how to run a bivariate correlation, identify Wernicke’s aphasia, and spot the most accurate nonverbal signs of deception. But, far more importantly, college teaches us how to be adaptable, how to think on our feet, how to innovate, how to BS, and how to fail with grace. And these are the things I will take forward with me. They’re the things that will get me not just my first job, but all of my future jobs and promotions. They’re the things that will help me connect to people on a social level. They’re the things that will enrich my life no matter how far away – in time or space – I get from the brick buildings and green lawns.
I feel well prepared by my time at Linfield. Now I am ready to put that preparation to use, because I’m done (here).