Graduation to what?

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May 062004
 
Authors: Thea Domber

Graduation? Beh.

I don’t mean to spoil the party but the words excitement, relief

and freedom aren’t the first ones to pop into my mind when I think

about walking next Saturday. The words that rush into my head are

more like fear, anger and a general sentiment of “that’s it?”

I’m happy to be getting out of here but I feel like I face a

bigger uphill battle now than I did before I went to college.

Coming to Colorado State was a big experiment for me. I wanted

to know if I could survive living far away from home (yes, I did,

but doing your own laundry sucks). I wanted to know if I was ready

to enter the adult world (yes, I am, but I was ready when I was

18). I wanted to know if I could survive in a place very different

from my home (yes, I did, but it was survival more than

thriving).

I suffered through 60 credits of core classes I’ll never need

and some professors who delighted in torturing me. And even in my

major, many of the skills I needed to learn were ones I already

knew. This is what I paid more than $20,000 a year for?

No offense, CSU, but I don’t feel much more prepared for the

real world than I did out of high school. Sure, I had mock

interviews- with a company from Fort Collins. Career day was great

… if I wanted to work in the Denver metro area! Colorado’s great

and all; I don’t think you can beat its beauty. But I want to work

east of the Mississippi. So I ended up setting up my own interviews

back home. With my own money and my own time. As a result, my class

attendance has sucked this last semester and my wallet is looking a

little bit thin.

Speaking of wallets, there’s a 500-pound gorilla on my back that

will be there until I’m about 35 or 40. Or 60. It’s called student

loans! Hello graduating with $50,000 in loans. I feel very cheated

when it came to money for school. I don’t get a trip to Europe when

I graduate. I paid my own way through school and now apparently I

get to pay for being an adult as well. It’s like the university is

saying to me, “Hey, not only will we not help you find a job, but

we also want you to be paying off your schooling for the next 15 to

20 years! Oh, and you’ll get your first alumni letter asking for

money in a week.”

It’s not like I was a bad student. I was pretty damn good, if I

do say myself. And I graduated in four years. Where is the

four-year parade? Looking at the four-year graduation rates I think

we deserve it! But my financial assistance has been minimal. My job

search assistance has been minimal. And I feel pretty minimalized

by a university who will soon be charging me $22.25 for my rental

cap, gown and a souvenir tassel. Gotta kick me one more time on the

way out, I know.

I don’t mean to sound bitter because I’m not. I met some super

cool people that I will stay friends with for life and found out a

lot about myself. I stepped out of my normal boundaries and tried

things I wouldn’t ordinarily do. I realize that in some ways that’s

what college is all about. But if meeting people I wouldn’t

normally talk to and finding out about myself was the main goal, I

could have done it all in one pop for $3,000 by signing up for the

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. cruise around the Caribbean and making buds

with my fellow NASCAR-lovin’ folk and at least I would have had the

ocean as my backdrop. (Bonus if Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow

or Orlando Bloom as Will Turner decided to board the ship.)

Or, more realistically, I could have stayed in New York City and

worked my way up and done night school. I guess I’m just wondering

what I got out of CSU that I couldn’t have gotten somewhere else

(besides KCSU, which is the coolest radio station ever). So what,

besides KCSU, did Colorado State uniquely offer me?

I’ve been thinking very hard for about two weeks and honestly, I

can’t think of a damn thing. I’ll walk next Saturday where my head

will not be in the clouds but weighed down by looming car payments,

loan payments and the prospect of fighting a bad economy for a

job.

I used to tell people that I wanted to be a rock star when I

grew up. It’s still true, but I probably need a back-up plan until

the labels come a-calling. There was a time when I used to be the

eternal optimist. In high school I won the unofficial award for

smiling most often. I don’t smile so much anymore though. If this

is what it means to be an adult, then I’d prefer to go back to

being 17 forever. Good luck, class of 2004. Here’s hoping that your

adult life starts off much easier than mine.

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