Prepare For The Real World, Now You’re A College Graduate

College is important.

Without college, many people would have no idea how to slack off properly and get by with the bare minimum.

For four years (if you are slacking off properly), you attend a university to receive the education that will benefit you for the rest of your adult life. You find out what time Taco Bell closes (3 a.m.) and how many cups of coffee it takes to make you feel like you may have a heart attack (seven).

In between those things, you manage to actually go to some classes as well.

These efforts all come to a head four years later when the institution you have called home kicks you out with a degree in Fine Arts focusing on 16th Century Russian Literature and says “Good luck.”

Over the weekend, I attended one such graduation. My sister had worked relatively hard and earned a bachelor’s degree, so I thought the least I could do was sit there and watch someone hand it to her.

Graduation festivities officially begin as the students line up and march in, much like ants towards a picnic, but dressed stupider. The crowd watches, trying to figure out which one will fall walking up the stairs to the stage. The girl in 6 inch stilettos usually gets about 3:2 odds.

I’ve never understood the graduation garb. It seems a bit strange for everyone to throw on matching robes and impractical cardboard hats so that they can walk across a stage. If you’re a really good student, they even throw a delightful colored rope around your neck, suitable for tying a boat up to a dock or whipping a fellow graduate when they aren’t looking (that one is based on experience).

Then, of course, there is the tassel. When a graduate is officially graduated, they move the tassel to the other side of the hat. When I go to a job interview, I bring my hat and show them the tassel position to prove I graduated. Then I whip them with a colored rope. (“Oh. That was a colored rope you whipped me with. You must have been an outstanding student!”)

The college always hires a speaker to try to inspire the students one last time before they go out into the world and pay back their student loans. It’s the least they can do, seeing as how that student owes the cost of a gently used Lamborghini back to the school. The students act like they are listening, but they are really thinking about the party they will have afterwards and how funny it was when they used their honor cords to whip their friend. Some will also use this time to finish their final paper, having put it off until the very last second.

Of course, the crowd acts like they are at the state of the union address. Everything that happens receives a standing ovation.

“Congratulations to the class of 2011.” Standing ovation.

“These students have worked hard, and this is the culmination of those efforts.” Standing ovation.

“The fire exits are on either side of the auditorium.” Standing ovation.

In fact, it seems most people just wait until someone pauses to jump up and start clapping. If the speaker were to take an extended breath, there is a fair chance there would be a roaring applause.

The worst job at the ceremony goes to the person who is forced to read off the student’s names. There is so much pressure here, so naturally they will mess up at least once. For example, at my sister’s graduation, a middle name got changed from Michelle to Michael. I’m sure that girl’s parents were less than happy. Parents usually frown upon their child’s gender being questioned.

Graduations like this always remind me of the downside of having a last name that starts with B-A. My sister was in the first fifteen students out of what seemed like 37 million. So after she received her diploma, I was left with an hour to entertain myself. You have no idea how many Angry Birds I sent flying through the air.

At last, the graduation ended. Then came the real excitement.

At the end of every graduation, there is a stampede to have pictures taken. This is the final college test, sort of a survival final exam. If you are able to make it out of the hoards of camera-wielding parents, you pass. If you get trampled to death, you don’t have to pay back your student loans. It’s a win-win.

A lot of people stand around saying, “I’m so glad I’m done.” These people should be hit upside the head.

Not that being an adult is that bad. It’s actually okay. I never have to write research papers and I haven’t filled in a Scan-Tron since then. In fact, I don’t even own a number two pencil anymore because I don’t need to.

Wishing you could end college, though, is like wanting that promotion at work: you would like the added money and responsibility, but you are significantly less prepared for advancement than you thought. At some point, only for a second, you even wish you could go back to your old easier job.

You can’t.

You have moved past that phase of your life into the next important phase. It is never easy, but it is necessary. Sure, you’ll wish you could go back to the days of no responsibility and grabbing Taco Bell before an all-night “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” marathon with no worries about work the next day, but it’s meant to be a temporary experience.

Now, you have to go and use whatever knowledge you have managed to lap up and become a real grown up.

Don’t worry, though. Taco Bell is still open late.

2 thoughts on “Prepare For The Real World, Now You’re A College Graduate

  1. I never attended a “4” year university. Many times, it’s 6 years for some to earn their degree. my husband worked his butt off at UCLA and earned his Aersopace Engineering degree within the proper 4 years…just to discover upon graduation, there were NO JOBS (1990- no aerospace jobs)and was going to interviews with people who were laid off with YEARS of experience.

    Needless to say, he doesn’t work in the field he studied…well, he does “engineering sales” and the background helps him with his sales job…but you get where I’m going with that! He had an internship at McDonnel Douglas for a bit, but never had a real job with Boeing building airplanes or working for NASA.

    Good news: He’s going to be able to tutor our son in math, which is already too hard for me and it’s only 1st grade! Damn fractions. 🙂

    Sandi
    http://www.ahhsome.wordpress.com
    Lake Forest, CA

    Like

  2. I’ve always wondered about the reason behind dressing up in the stupidist outfit ever for such an important day. It’s like the final sorority hazing before they let you out in the real world. And the real irony is that you have to PAY to wear that hideous outfit.

    Congratulations to your sister, who it seems, has had to put up with a lot in life already, and deserves to have a wonderful life ahead of her. 🙂

    Like

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