It's been almost a month since i "walked the plank" (to borrow my grandmother's phrase), and it still hasn't quite hit me that i'm a college graduate.
Occasionally, i'll be struck with a small wave of realization, like when i realize that i will never again have the opportunity to study poetry with Kathleen McCann, or pretend to pay attention in class while really editing a poem and texting Emily, who is sitting next to me, also pretending to pay attention while texting me and reading Failbook. (By the way, for all those out there who are bothered by the use of cell phones in class, you should know that Emily passed her English senior comps with distinction and graduated cum laude, and that i passed my psych comps with distinction, my English comps with a high pass, and graduated magna cum laude.)
But mostly, it feels like nothing has changed. This is due in large part to the fact that very little has actually, concretely changed. For the last two summers in a row, i have worked at my school's admissions office. I am still working there now. The only difference is that now, i commute from my apartment instead of living on campus. Plus i have a slightly flashier title. In the fall, i will be taking classes at the same school where i got my undergraduate degrees. Granted, they will be graduate classes and will meet in the evenings, but i will be in the same buildings where i have always had classes, with some of the same professors and probably some of the same students. And there is an excellent chance that i will still be working in the admissions office.
The thing is, i really don't mind being stuck in the college mindset. Everyone is right when they tell you that your college years will be the best of your life. There is something about taking four years to do nothing but learn that is a totally unique and incredible experience.
After college, you're supposed to be pretty much done (barring any post-graduate degrees). College is a time of experimentation, but once you've switched that tassel, experimentation is over. You know who you are and what you want. You've got you all figured out.
During college, you are encouraged to make mistakes. That's how you learn. If you don't know how to do something, you can try anyway, and learn from trial and error. If you don't know the answer, you can find it. It's okay to ask; you're there to learn. You can randomly switch directions without anyone making any judgements. You can change your major, change your haircut, change your sexual orientation, go vegan, start a new sport, join a club, run for student council, break up with someone, whatever. How are you going to find out what you like unless you try everything?
After college, you are encouraged to use the lessons you have learned to do things right. You've already learned. If you don't know how to do something, why not? Did you skip class that day? Don't even try. You're just going to mess it up. Let someone who is qualified handle it. You're not here to learn, you're here to do, so stop asking questions. Why are you trying to change your life? Are you going through a midlife crisis? Don't you already know who you are and what you like? Come on, you've had over two decades to figure that stuff out. What did you do with all that time?
I wish i could be a permanent college student. I love learning. I'm a huge geek. I had two majors in college (i just used the past tense and it's freaking me out all over again), and would gladly have packed on two or three more plus a handful of minors if i'd had the money. If i could do anything with my life, i'd spend the next twenty years or so collecting multiple degrees from multiple colleges. Think about it: in twenty years, i could attend five four-year colleges. I've already got my psych and English degrees, so i could do journalism and history next. Then maybe religion, with a philosophy minor. Then secondary education (which is what my master's will be in), with maybe a minor in business administration. (Side note: by and large, i think that business degrees are bullshit. But a minor in business administration would allow me to have some legitimacy when i try to take over the administrations of various school systems). I'd want a music degree at some point. And i could finish up with environmental science and government.
But more than my thirst for knowledge and my hunger to distinguish myself (can you tell it's almost lunchtime?), i want to stay within the safe space of college. I like being allowed to experiment. I like being allowed to not know things. I like being allowed to change my mind, to take on a new challenge, to make mistakes. And i really like ramen noodles.