Soon I’ll be leaving NMU with my degree, and I’m supposed to enter the “real world,” whatever that means. I’ll be taking some really valuable skills with me when I go. Between my job here at the paper as the photography editor and the projects within my degree that I have had to complete over the years, I feel like I can take on any challenge.
I should feel this way because, after all, I will be a highly skilled and validated graduate of this university.
My family and my credit have barred the financial burden of putting me through this school so I can leave with a piece of paper and a pat on the back from the
administration for a job well done.
The more I have thought about this over the past few weeks, the more bizarre the idea of graduating college becomes.
It reminds me of that feeling I started to get as I neared graduation from high school almost five years ago. As I walked across the stage and took my high school diploma from the hands of our principal, I wondered what would be different the next morning when I woke up a high school graduate. Nothing was different. I woke up one day older and one day further away from many of the useful skills I had learned and even further from the useless ones.
The only difference this time around is that I know what’s coming. I know that the morning after I graduate when I wake up I’m not going to feel the least bit different.
I might have a slight headache from celebrating the night before, but other than that nothing will change.
No one is going to knock on my front door and welcome me to the real world. No one is going to hand me a schedule and tell me that since I am an adult I’m obligated to wake up early and watch the Today Show while drinking coffee and cursing the noisy neighbor kids.
I’m going to wake up the same way I always do and I’m going to do whatever I want. No one is going to tell me what to do because that’s the point. That is what I have worked hard and paid for.
I’ve realized that there is no real world and the degree I will receive may show employers that I have learned a collection of skills that apply to my profession but that’s not the most important part of getting my degree.
The important thing is that my degree shows I can manage my own life as I see fit and accomplish my own goals.
There’s no way you can make it through college and finish your education unless you learn how to manage your time properly, plan ahead, decide what it is you really want and figure out how to go about getting it in the real world.
College also teaches students how to balance the fun of their personal life with the work in the real world. Because if you didn’t have fun as a college student, then you didn’t get an education and you wasted your money.
That’s what a degree really means, and that’s what I’ll tell myself the day after I graduate, when I wake up and everything is the same.