Published: Thursday, March 29, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Last Wednesday, I received an e-mail from the Office of Commencement with e-invitations to invite family and friends to my upcoming graduation ceremony. This Monday, I made a decision regarding my first official post-graduation job offer. And today, I write my last column for The Heights.
For college seniors, it is difficult to ignore the sense of finality that surrounds us. This feeling of conclusion is accompanied by uncertainty. This uncertainty breeds stress. And ultimately, these feelings combine to create a mentality of self-interestedness. With concerns about jobs, student loan payments, and the economy, it is easy to understand how soon-to-be graduates can get caught up in their own brains.
As April approaches, most seniors are likely preoccupied with a combination of the following considerations: What am I going to do for a job? Am I going to enjoy my job? Is this the right career for me? Should I accept this offer? Should I attend this graduate program? Will I graduate with honors? Where am I going to live after graduation? Am I making the right decisions?
These are all important questions. This type of self-focus is constructive and necessary. It will ensure that seniors are best prepared for the post-graduate world that awaits. But all of this focus on the “I” and “my” is exhausting.
As a society, we have come to view graduating from college as an individual accomplishment. Commencement ceremonies focus on recognizing both the individual graduates and the graduating class as a whole. With all of this attention on the students, it’s easy to lose sight of the support system that truly enabled them to get there. I propose that we rethink the way we view graduation.
It is inarguable that much of a graduate’s achievement is the product of his or her own hard work. By my count (which is subject to variation depending on one’s field of study), if the average student writes two papers and takes two exams per academic course, then he or she has written 76 papers and completed 76 exams by graduation day. The student has also attended (or at least was supposed to attend) approximately 500 classes. These numbers are impressive. But they are not just the sum total of an individual graduate’s efforts. They are the product of something much larger.
As May 21 nears, I cannot help but to realize how much of a collaborative effort my graduation will be. And I am not alone in this thinking. Without the encouragement and support of others, the class of 2012 would not stand where we are today. Before we take the last step and cross over the threshold into the so-called “real world,” some acknowledgements are in order.
To the dads who hauled 80 lb. bins up countless flights of stairs to our freshman dorm rooms on moving day. To the professors who challenged and inspired us. To the roommates and friends who were always there to offer perfectly timed words of encouragement or liquid courage. To the people who funded our education. To easybib.com for formatting all of our bibliographies. To the parents and guardians who postponed their retirements so that we could get the education that they were never able to. To the facilities workers who saved us from ever having to go a day without lighting, plumbing, or heating. To the people with whom we shared incredible conversations. To the friends who withheld Facebook and Twitter passwords so that we could finish writing papers during our darkest hour of senioritis. To the people who carefully proofread our writing. To the boyfriends, girlfriends, and best friends who patiently listened. To the moms, for everything. To the admissions officers who believed in us. To the inventors of Command Hooks, for saving us hundreds of dollars in damage billing. To the people who rescued us when we were sad and were excited for us when we were happy. To the advisors who reassured us. To the one roommate who took out the trash way more than everyone else—we thank you.
From now on, when feeling stressed by the uncertainty that we face as graduating seniors, let us try our best to keep things in perspective. This way, instead of feeling overwhelmed by the choices that we have to make, we can appreciate having such choices in the first place. After all, deciding if we can afford an apartment with access to a sweet roof deck or debating whether we should turn down a job offer to pursue opportunities that are more in line with our passions are luxuries, not crises.
We are exceedingly fortunate if our lives allow us to consider such privileged post-graduate decisions. And perhaps the opportunity to receive our education from a school like Boston College is our greatest privilege of all. For this, we owe an incredible debt of gratitude to those who helped to make it possible.
So class of 2012, when our friends, family, and the faculty of BC applaud our accomplishment on May 21, let us stand and applaud theirs in return.