Graduation: A Senior’s Nightmare and a Young Adult’s Dream
Raise your hand if you went to preschool. The majority of people reading this most likely started their education at the tender age of five and have since gone from one year to the next with the certainty of strict schedules and mediocre lunch foods.
Now, keep your hand raised if you are about to graduate college. Of those, who is absolutely terrified of the end of their schooling career? I don’t know about you, but my hand is still in the air.
For 18 and a half out of my twenty-two years of life, I have been in a classroom for two-thirds of every year. I go from one semester to the next with a sheet of paper telling me who my next teacher is, what supplies I will need and at least some knowledge of what is going to be asked of me. The late fall brought with it school clothes shopping, the end of spring meant a summer of swimming, traveling, and gaming. Success was measured in grades, and balancing school, work, and friends was the hardest part of my days.
Classes will end by the second week in May and my graduation is a dozen or so days after. Then what? I will be applying for jobs soon and if I’m lucky, I will be hired. However there won’t be exams and professors looking to help me with my homework. There will be work, real work, which my wellbeing and financial stability depend on. A poor mark could mean being reprimanded or fired, putting accountability at an all-time high. This means in a best-case scenario situation, my level of responsibility is about to skyrocket.
I know I am not alone in this feeling. I know I am not the only one who raised their hand. Until now, I’ve signed forms with my occupation listed as student. At the end of this semester, an actual title will go there, or the dreadful “unemployed”. Of course, it’s more than just a title change I am undergoing, it is an entire identity overhaul. This advancement through a life can be nerve-wracking because it is one of those pivotal moments when we must take everything we have learned, everything we have done and everything we have experienced and use them to evolve into that strange, mythical creature: a functioning, career-holding adult.
We are currently in the beginning stages of this process, and this is where the concept of graduation gets interesting. As a young adult, a pre-adult if you will, I am more excited than scared. The payoff for my hard work will result in monetary compensation and professional recognition. Anyone who has had an internship or summer job will understand how the satisfaction between that and a high semester GPA is quite different. Instead of spending my days discussing theories, I will finally be able to put them to use in real time. Instead of performing the same presentation for the third semester in a row, I will adapt to new situations and challenges.
It’s a natural progression: we first identify as kindergarteners, then elementary school kids, middle schoolers, high schoolers and university students. At the same time we move through childhood, teenage life and young adulthood. We go through these stages at the same time bringing with them a duality of sorts. On the one hand, being a student is all we know, it has certainty and we know what to expect. On the other hand, as a young adult we are bored. So many years learning and not nearly enough doing. We are ready to move on, even if the student in us is not.
Maybe that is why so many adults love taking classes, attending lectures and reading textbooks. As humans we have an inherent interest in learning, so the student in us never really diminishes. The young adult will press on as an educated professional prepared for the world. Together, they almost make that functioning creature I mentioned before.
So finish this last semester strong fellow seniors. Nourish the student, and embrace the young adult. We are all both, and we are all ready for the next step.