Graduation. Everybody at university practically lives for that word. It can mean so many different things from freedom, to wealth, to personal growth. So many of our hopes and dreams get poured into such a concept; we work and toil, stressing over exams, papers, and grades. College students might as well be paying for graduation with their blood and sweat. It could be called the culmination of our dreams. It could also just be the day one shifts from training to application. Either way, graduation is a sign of change- a change where the things one has learned can be taken to the rest of the world to produce something for the rest of society. It could also be a change where the poor college student finally doesn’t have to rely upon the financial aid of others and is able to stand on his own. But most importantly, it is a day to consider the past, present, and future: what you’ve overcome, what you’re currently going through, and what follows.
This is probably why I’ve never enjoyed my graduations. From high school to community college, not much changed for me; it was just another shift to a higher form of education. I didn’t even go to the grand event. I celebrated by staying home with a bowl of ice cream. My graduation from community college with an Associate’s Degree was the same; I took a small break, and now I’m back to school at Dallas Baptist University. Despite these graduations, the shift was never quite the same scale as that from college to career.
The truth of the matter is that every college student is going through a time of monumental change. After all, it’s when they start living in a new place with new people and a new set of rules. No matter how much preparation one goes through before the change, the new culture and environment forces growth. But the big thing about this shift is that even if newly-arrived college freshmen aren’t adults yet, they’re (hopefully) heading towards adulthood. There’s room for growth; not everyone is expected to be perfect as soon as they take those first few steps into college. University includes learning how the world works, how the work life operates, how the bills come in, how the food needs to be made, how the rent needs to be paid, so that when graduation comes… you’re ready. So while I might not be close to graduation, I know I can focus on related things. I can prepare, here and now, in the present.
Graduation might be what you’re aiming for, but don’t forget about what comes after. College doesn’t have to only be about what classes you’ve completed and what grades you’ve made; it can also be about learning to live life as an adult so that when graduation comes, you’re ready. Of course, defining what it is to be an adult is a subject big enough for a separate blog post (or five), and since I haven’t actually graduated from university yet, I probably don’t have many words of wisdom about this possible future. But don’t forget, while college graduation is a huge milestone, it’s important to aim for what’s after as well. Don’t just dream about graduation itself; dream beyond it! What career would you like? What hobbies? What else do you want to do afterwards?
You might be about to graduate. You might have to work towards it a while longer like I do. Either way, it’s worthwhile to consider all the implications of graduation: what things were like before, things to learn now, and things yet to come. Who knows, maybe soon you’ll get to stand on that stage, diploma in hand, and take another step closer to your dreams. Maybe this consideration will provide some clarity needed to achieve that.
Written by Isaac
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