Graduation: A Departing Senior’s Thoughts



Education is an accomplishment that can never be taken away

By the time this issue of the Independent prints, I will have two days left in my undergraduate college career. I’ve been counting down the days since February. Hell, I’ve been counting down the days since 1999. School has never been my thing — and for a guy who prides himself on being fearless and unfaltering, the ever-present ghost of my youth and idea of looming “real life” has had me a bit unsettled.

I’m not afraid of adulthood, nor should any other 2015 (or future) graduate be, but the simple idea of not doing something you’ve been doing your whole life, even something as absolutely agonizing as school and homework, is enough to turn the fearless and emotionless to apprehensive and sentimental. What’s more, we continue to hear and read things to pile onto those negative emotions.

We’ve all been hearing it throughout our college careers; the job market sucks, you’re going to drown in debt and never get out of it, college isn’t worth it anymore, etc. While there may be some strong factual evidence behind some of those claims, it should not deter you from enjoying this experience and feeling prideful upon your completion of it.

For every non-contextual stat college naysayers have, there is one supporting the traditional educational timeline.

People with bachelor’s degrees make around $300,000 more over their lifetimes than those with just a high school diploma, according to an analysis by Jaison R. Abel and Richard Deitz of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That’s more than triple the value of the degree in 1980, when college grads earned about $80,000 more than those with just high school degrees.

It took graduates an average of 25 years to make up for the costs of getting a bachelor’s degree in the late 1970s, the researchers said. Today it takes on average 10 years.

What’s odd is the higher propensity of seeing these stats in the weeks leading up to graduation. It’s like the Internet is there to make you see, analyze and over-analyze each educational decision you’ve made for the past 10 years.

But here’s the approach I’ve found successful for myself: just say screw it. Through doing this, I’ve regained the fearlessness and emotionless that helped me finish my degree. Screw the statistics, both supporting and criticizing the pursuit of a degree, screw the people that bring anything but support and positivity to your experience and screw any last-minute hurdles you have to jump over in order to ensure your graduation – and trust me, they’ll be there for you too. Screw that stuff, and focus on the stuff that you accomplished.

The experiences I’ve had, the literal lifelong friends and mentors I’ve gained, that feeling of incredible accomplishment after getting a good grade on a paper you invested hours into…these are the things to take away from the college experience.

There are jobs out there, you’ll find one. Money is just money, don’t let it control you. The experiences you’ve had, both inside and outside of the classroom, are more important than any statistic on the value of a college degree.

If you’re a fellow member of the Class of 2015, congratulations. Enjoy the hell out of the last few days of this experience. Walk around campus by yourself a few times and soak it all in.

If you’re still working towards your degree, just keep pushing and don’t let the stress ever take over. The feeling of accomplishment outweighs the fear of debt. You’re enjoying an experience on your way to achieving something that many do not. According to the New York Times, more than 30 percent of American adults hold Bachel…

…screw the statistic. Enjoy your pursuit.