A Graduation Speech For College Graduates

A Graduation Speech For College Graduates

College graduation is nigh upon all of you.
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After three years of college, I am now graduating and taking my first baby steps into the big, wide world of real life. The real world now beckons, and I am ready to put my acquired knowledge and skills to the test. Generally, college graduation is a time of mixed feelings: a feeling of uncertainty, a feeling of joy, a feeling of sadness, a feeling of pressure. Many college graduates are still planning their next step in life and also how to pay off that student loan debt they acquired. They are also trying to figure out how to adjust to life after college: how to deal with starting a career, how to pay bills and how to meet new friends. While the feeling of graduation is certainly nice, graduates still have to deal with the everyday realities and concerns of the real world, and they have severe doubts about whether or not they are ready to take on the necessary responsibilities.

I understand these concerns; I too am thinking about them right now. Having a full-time job and being out there on your own is radically different from school, and school is what most of us have been doing for years now. We’re used to teachers, classes, homework, studying and tests; these concepts have been a part of our daily routine since we were 5 or 6. And the strict daily routine that comes with most jobs is a concept utterly alien to most of us. We’ve spent the past several years having unstructured daily routines; we have freedom in staying up as long as we want and setting the hours in which we work. While we have classes to go to, these have been scattered throughout the day and there are large blocks of free time left over. In the real world, this scenario no longer exists, often to the frustration of many college graduates.

And for many people, college is a time of learning and exploration. College offers the chance to learn so much about a field one is passionate about, a field that motivates and gets your attention. Colleges are filled with people who make a living teaching and researching in their field of interest. Colleges are hubs of intellectual thinking and groundbreaking research; they offer so many opportunities for growth and development. On top of that, there are countless extracurriculars for people to engage in and to connect with others through. College is often considered the perfect time to live and explore. It's a chance to find out who you are, all for an oftentimes hefty amount of tuition and fees of course.

In reality, college isn’t perfect. Not every college student is mature and enlightened; not every professor likes to spend their time teaching undergrads. Not every college course is a fountain of learning and intellectual joy; many are often completely unrelated to your major. Not every college is a paradise of fun and partying; many colleges are tough and have very rigorous academics. Not every party is wild and crazy; not every college student lives an idyllic life of academics and fun. Many students struggle with a strenuous workload and a part-time job on the side to survive; the combination of multiple responsibilities and the pressures of the environment can lead to persistent stress and depression. Coupled with the rising costs of tuition and other fees, college can also be a hefty financial burden for students and their families; a lot of students carry tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. In short, college is often not the amazing four years that our society makes it out to be.

In my personal experience, I was a lot happier and less stressed out in high school than at Tech. I had more confidence in myself and my abilities; I also had a stronger desire to learn and succeed. Not only that, I also was more productive and more successful in the more structured high school environment. Despite this, I realize my experience at Tech made me a lot more mature and gave me a good grounding in computer science. I also met a lot of interesting and great people, who made me a better person and taught me a lot. Despite all that, I am looking forward to the real world, to tackling the next phase of my life. I understand your concerns and anxieties; I want you all to understand that college is merely a phase of life, an ultimately short one in the grand scheme of things. Life does not go downhill or end after college; there are still going to be parties, clubs, courses, video games, LAN parties, concerts, conventions, and Pokemon GO! There is still a thing called a social life; people still go out on dates and have fun out there. Think about it; the average person has 50-60 years of life after graduating college. There is so much more to life than just college; college is ultimately just like high school since its an institution with its own conventions and rules and quirks.

For those who worry about having less freedom, there is financial freedom out there in the real world. Making your own money, your own living gives you a level of freedom that you simply don’t have in college. You can buy more things and have a wider variety of places to live and things to do. You are no longer reliant on either your parents or a couple of part-time jobs for money. You have access to better food and living conditions, better restaurants to eat out at and computers to game on. Managing money can be very difficult at first, but like any other skill it gets better with practice. And once you master it, you will be much happier because you’ll have a better quality of life and more opportunities to do what you want to do, not just the theoretical ability to do it. And for those who adore the intellectual side of college, there’s always grad school. In there, you’ll get to fully immerse yourself in your passion and do groundbreaking research in that field. And once you get a PhD, you can continue doing your academic work full-time and make a living out of it as a professor. How awesome is that!

So, college graduates, have no reason to despair. College is merely a phase of life, one that trained you to become proficient in a certain field. One that made you find yourself and become a better person. One that made you more mature and appreciative of the diversity of the great world we live in. One where you met amazing people whom have become lifelong friends and partners in life. Now it’s time to go out there and kick some butt! Make your friends, your family, and your alma mater proud!

Cover Image Credit: College graduates awaiting their fate

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Why Getting Away From Where You Grew Up Is Important

College is the perfect time to get away from home and go out into the real world.
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As you get older, life sometimes makes it hard for you to take control and go to the places you've only dreamed of. There's always a work meeting, ballet recital, or something to hold you back from taking that trip planned four summers ago. College is the perfect time to get away from home and go out into the real world.

It's important to get away from everything you know at one point in your life. There is a whole world full of risk, chance, and experience. The security you have in your hometown can be traded in for adventure and change. There's a time to try something new, learn something that blows your mind, or go somewhere that takes your breath away. That time is now, to feel like you are actually doing something worthwhile with your life.

It is important to get away from where you have grown up for some of your life. You need to grow on your own, without anyone there to tell you you're wrong or out of line being a certain way. The transition from high school to college is the gift of independence. You choose who you get to be without anyone holding your past against you. It's a do-over, a second chance after the mistakes and regrets you lived through in high school. Yet, being away from home has its drawbacks as you lose familiar faces, a steady schedule, and many creature comforts. But, all of these can be found in a new place with time. Leaving the place you grew up gives you another chance to grow again, without boundaries. Travel whenever you get an opportunity because it may not come again. Test your limits while living your actual dreams. Go out and explore the world—you're only here once and don't have time to take it for granted. Leaving everything you know sounds scary, but there are great memories to be made out there.

Whether this new place for you is two hours from home, or 20, it's different, it's exciting and it's change. It is important to get away from where you grew up and learn from the adventures you embark on. It is the best way to find yourself and who you want to be. It's what you'll remember when you look back on everything you've done.

Cover Image Credit: Madison Burns

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I'm A 'Super Senior' And Ultimately, I Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way

Taking more than four years to finish college is actually more common than you think...

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Ever since the beginning of high school, I had my academic future planned out. I was going to be a pre-med student in college, graduate with my bachelor's degree within four years, then move onto graduate school. Once I started taking my pre-med classes, I started struggling quite a bit.

I was retaking certain classes not only to get a better grade but to also understand the material more. After retaking multiple courses, I started to fall behind in the number of credit hours necessary to keep the proper class status. At that point, I knew I wasn't going to be able to graduate in four years and would eventually become a "super senior."

The term "super senior" refers to a student who will be taking longer than the traditional four years to complete their undergraduate studies. People can become a super senior for a variety of reasons.

Some people may not be able to attend school full time. Others may double major or be in a program that takes longer than four years to complete. There are also instances where students develop different interests and change their major.

As I said, I had never planned on being a super senior, so when it became my reality, I felt defeated. Being a super senior made me feel like I was failing at college. During my fourth year of school, I witnessed many of my friends since freshman year filling out their graduation paperwork, applying to graduate programs, getting internships and co-ops, or looking for their first adult job. While I was happy for their success, it was hard watching my friends graduate without me.

Another unpleasant aspect of being a super senior is having to tell people you are one. I've lost count on the number of times friends and family have assumed I would be graduating and asked me what my plans were for the next year, and I had to awkwardly respond that I would still be finishing up classes for my degree.

As much as I didn't want to become a super senior, the fact was that I became one. However, I am currently in the last semester of my undergraduate studies and I must say that I am truly thankful that I got to spend that extra year in college.

Having the additional time in college gave me the opportunity to realize what my true calling was. I was able to take classes that I would have never taken on my pre-med pathway and I discovered that social science subjects like psychology and social work are actually my passion.

Once I realized I was in the wrong major and started taking classes that interested me, I actually started to look forward to going to class every day. Not only did I like my classes, but my grades improved immensely.

Another bonus to being a super senior has been the new relationships that have developed. Once all of my college friends graduated and moved away, I tried to find other people to spend my time with. I am so thankful for all of the new friendships I have made because of being a super senior. Had I not been in school that extra year, odds are good I would have never met them!

All in all, becoming a super senior was not part of my initial plan, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I was able to learn more about myself and what my passions are, as well as meet some amazing new people along the way.

In the end, it doesn't matter how long it takes for you to get that degree, all that matters is that you earned it!

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