Graduation – a momentous rite of passage for those in academic higher education. This May 2019, I will be supremely excited to be able to call myself a college graduate. In society, those who have gained the status of alumnus of a university or college are fortunate to be considered more seriously and qualified for a job in a focused field they desire. It does not escape my notice that a “college education” is not particularly necessary or possible for everyone who may desire to go into other fields, such as more technical or skilled labor. For those who are earning a degree, however, this is an exciting time. A huge step in furthering their dreams. For me, I believe that this is my path to success. It would take a whole other post to quantify my definition of “success.” We can continue on with the conventional meaning of success.
The purpose of this post is to express my pride, excitement, and gratitude for the transitional part of my life that I’m at, and to muse about what happens next. You know I love to muse.
I’ve accepted a full-time salaried job in my professional field of choice at a firm that I’ve interned at before twice. Not many people can say that sentence, and I’m so grateful that I can. None of this would be possible without the unwavering support from my family, how they set me up for success in life, and the way I’ve been able to be treated and given opportunities to excel throughout my educational career. I am thankful every day for how things are. Knowing ahead of time what I will be doing in the next months after graduation gives me an immense feeling of relief and security that is invaluable.
My degree program that I went through was five years of intense and rigorous work. I feel proud and exhausted all at the same time. But I think that’s what’s so rewarding about it. There were certainly times where I fell off track and didn’t put in as much effort as I should have or I couldn’t work through a problem and settled for less than average. Those times are outnumbered, however, by perseverance, strive for exceptionality, and proper process. I’ll be finishing out my years with a squarely average GPA and standing in my class. That is fine with me, because you know, at least I didn’t drop out or change my major. That’s not in my nature to do anyway, though. I feel both satisfied and unsatisfied with my education, if we’re being honest. I was exposed to so many great ideas and teaching and experiences. But I don’t think I fully took advantage of it all, or perhaps didn’t truly synthesize the information in a way where I could incorporate it into my own process. I hope that my performance doesn’t reflect poorly on this. But I think that may be a universal fear. Where one does all the motions but doesn’t fully commit to it. “Fake it til you make it,” as they say.
Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do. —Pèle
I am definitely glad that at least I had exposure to it all. I’ll probably always boast about my private liberal arts university education. I think in this day and age, it is extremely valuable. People equipped to think well is so important, more so than being fountains of knowledge or trained to be a worker bee. A multi-disciplinary perspective and intersectional purpose is beautiful to me. This is my opinion, and while I don’t dispute that my definition is not everyone’s, this is what’s important to me in my own life.
Lastly, addressing the future… I’ve always been able to see a strong direction for myself. I knew I wanted typical ideals of wealth and status, relationships, and so on. The part that might have been murky was how to get there. It is clearer now. I was fortunate to get started with a strong foundation in childhood, adolescence, and now young adulthood. This is the part where I launch now. I envision an infusion of large leaps of learning, understanding, and building relationships to come. I worry, though, that it will feel no different from now. Or even less stimulating and, dare I say, boring. I truly hope not. Many graduates have expressed a sense of loneliness and mundanity. I am so concerned that it will start to feel like I am just a small number in the ecosystem after leaving the tide pool that is academia. While higher ed nurtures that sense of wonder and thirst for knowledge and connections, I have no idea what the professional world will hold. I hope that it does too, but you never know.
I don’t want to end negatively though, so I will look positively. To assuage my fears, I will think instead about the networks that can be joined. Mentorship programs. Continuing education and job-related training. These things can alleviate the sense of stagnation. It is important to join alumni chapters and professional networking groups. I plan to do that, so I can continue to build my network, which is a hugely important aspect of my field, architecture. There’s also many opportunities for volunteering and design competitions and passion projects, so that I can do good for the world, exercise creative or new concepts, and explore my interests. Life doesn’t end or begin after graduation, it continues.
Personally, I grew a lot in college. Emotionally, mentally, socially,
physically. I don’t want to regress and lose the skills I have learned since I was a freshman. I never knew before coming to college how to comfortably talk to a room full of people, how to conduct myself in certain social or professional situations, what etiquette really could be. I learned it. And I don’t want to forget it. Confidence and self-esteem were some of the most valuable things I gained after coming to college, joining a sorority, forming a close-knit friend group, and pursuing my educational interests. Without these things, this version of me would not have been possible. Evolution happened, and I can’t disregard that. I want to take that sense of purpose and dignity into my professional life, I hope I can. I will try my hardest to convey all these things and Live My Values.
Remembering what is important to me and what I want out of life is key to this. As well as staying humble. This whole post was the opposite of humble, but this is a time to celebrate accomplishments, and I’m taking it. So if you’ve stuck with me this long, thank you. And congratulations Class of 2019!
What are you proud of accomplishing in life? What are some topics you are passionate about learning? If you went to college/are going to college, what is your major of focus? Why are you interested in that topic or what do you hope to do with your degree? If you could go to school to learn anything, what would it be? I’d love to know!