“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” -Tom Bodett
Welp, here we go. It is officially, definitively, one month to graduation.
The school has given us our caps and gowns, the yearbook has been poured over, and we have all given up on caring about our grade in that one senior elective we only took to fulfill credit requirements.
The job hunt looms ahead: an intimidating mess of resumes, cover letters, and awkward moments during interviews. We know we have no choice but to look ahead into that dark cloud of uncertainty, and all we really want to do is turn around and relive the familiar, worry-free moments we didn’t realize we should have appreciated more.
In the face of post-grad life, there’s talk about the value of a college education. Having that degree will, hopefully, help you get some job or another. But, there’s still those who ask- was it worth it?
Was it worth the money? That unbelievable price tag that you justified you could pay off between scholarships, grants, loans, side jobs, and (for us lucky ones) the generosity of your parents?
Was it worth the time? Those endless hours in pre-reqs and core classes, the late nights writing 20+ page papers on Shakespeare and studying for that cumulative psych final?
Was it worth the stress, the anxiety? Was it worth the frustration? And, in the end, are you any better off?
I can’t (and won’t try to) speak for my fellow soon-to-be graduates. But for me, the answer is: absolutely.
College connected me with people who have drastically, and beautifully, changed my life.
The classes were important, but the professors were exponentially moreso- the English professor that was so excited about what we read that he made me WANT to go to class, the Humanities professors that made me change the way I see the world and defend my opinions with conviction, and the art teacher that convinced me we’re all artists, somehow.
The professional experience was valuable, but my mentors made all the difference. The advisers that showed me what real support in the workplace does (and doesn’t) look like, the older students that inspired me and made me want to be better every single day, and the co-workers that continually surprised me with their passion and their dedication.
The late nights out and college parties were fun, but they would have been nothing without the friends I made in the process. The roommates that have stood by me since move-in day, the friends that have no problem with a 3 a.m. emotional phone call, and the alumni that still keep in touch and offer advice via a group text message that involves too many emojis.
These people, all of them, saw me in my best and worst moments. My professors at my academic highs and lows. My advisers and coworkers through my successes and failures. My friends through the highs of loves and lows of breakups, through happiness and hangovers.
They have had an impact on my life that, years after our tassels have been turned, will not be any less important in shaping who I am than it is today. They gave me a real education.
If someone asks me if I’ll be better off financially than I would have been with a different past four years, the honest answer is I don’t know, and maybe I never will. But worth isn’t always measured in numbers and statistics, and the experience of meeting these amazing people and sharing a love of learning and life with them has been the most worthwhile thing I’ve done thus far.
So don’t worry, college. When they ask if you were worth it, I’ll tell them you were.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have you on my resume.