Throughout history the college campus has been a place of activism and bubbling ambition. From anti-war protests to rallies to bring awareness to important issues, college students have been at the forefront of countless movements in our nation. What is it that makes college students so fiery? Why do so many grassroots movements begin with college students? Is it because college students are rich? Not likely. Loud? Some. Incredibly business minded? Rarely. No, no, no. In order to fully understand the reason why so many grassroots movements take place on college campuses, one must understand what makes up the fabric of a college student. Combine a great deal of curiosity, passion, hope, open-mindedness, and vision and the result will be a college student.
College is a unique time. It is the four years between childhood and adulthood. It is the first time that an individual will dictate his or her own life. A college student gets to be his or her own social director, chef, disciplinarian and overall guardian for the first time. College is also the last time that there is a clearly defined “next step” to take in life.
Prior to college, life has had a fairly undeniable direction. First is babyhood (ah, babyhood). Babies become toddlers and eventually children who are sent to pre-school. Pre-school leads into elementary school and elementary school to middle school. From middle school the next obvious step is high school. After high school some students drop out of the educational race and pursue other ventures, such as work experience or travel, but for many, college is the next clear step to take.
But then what? Some college graduates will continue their academic careers as graduate students, but what about those who feel like an undergraduate degree is all they need? There is the predictable answer-get a job, bud sadly without the proper guidance getting a job can mean losing much of what makes a college student a college student-namely, their fiery nature.
For most, college is a time to explore and challenge interests. The college student has spent four years taking courses that they (hopefully) have been interested in. So, it can be a surprise when the focus shifts from, “What courses can I take that I will enjoy and am interested in” to, “How can I pay the bills?” This shift can also mean putting on hold ambitions that so many college students have to go out and change the world and suppressing that fieriness that makes college students so unique.
I am not saying that every college student loses sight of their dreams and passions the minute they graduate or that getting a job that pays the bills and setting everything else on the back burner for a while is so bad. Yet, what I am saying is that I think that there are ways out there in the vastness of life to get around all that and keep the passion of the college student alive and well long after the graduation cap has been hung up.
As a college senior with graduation under three months away and little to no idea as to what I will do after I receive my diploma, I am seeking a little advice. My hope is that by asking the questions that I need to ask in order to succeed in the “real world” and getting the answers to these questions form people who have been in my position (and the position of my fellow seniors), I can have a better handle on how to handle life after graduation. So let’s sit back, have some pizza, and enjoy the ride. Life is waiting.
Are you a soon-to-be graduate? I would love to hear from you! If you would like to submit a question or answer to one of the questions in my column please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] Who knows, you may be in the next installment of “The Real World: Graduation.”