Perhaps I am having a slight panic attack – overreacting just a little bit. Last week, as I realized I should graduate with my English degree within a year, I became overwhelmed with the thought of looking for a job. I hadn’t anticipated graduation sneaking up on me, as it is something I have been working towards for so long. All the same, there I sat slightly startled by this nearing milestone and slightly angry at the thought that the work was not even half over. In fact, I decided the work was only just beginning. Instead of essays and exams, I’ll be dealing with interviews and promotions. That’s when the idea struck me – school is a safe hiding place. Is it possible that I don’t want to graduate?
After all, when you say you are a student you often get more respect than if you had said you are a waiter or waitress or even a stay-at-home parent. If you are low on funds, as a student, it is somehow okay. You have a good excuse – tuition is so costly. If you aren’t working, but you are going to school, you still earn a certain amount of society’s approval. If you are working, but not exactly in the job you wanted, it is again more acceptable if you are a student than if you are not.
For the most part, school is seen as a transitional phase in life. It’s understandable if you are not where you want to be, because you are still making your way there. Essentially, as students, we are granted certain leniencies that others are not. Perhaps we are given these leniencies because students represent some sort of potential. Being in school suggests that maybe you are on your way to somewhere better than you are now. As long as you are a student you have a safety net to fall back on and your indecision is understood. Like rookies on a sports team, the expectations aren’t quite so high.
Of course, while you are a student life feels anything but easy and safe. I am one of the many students who doesn’t know what exactly I want to do when I graduate. This fact often taunts from the sidelines like a child sticking its tongue out at me. I’ve read many articles on what you can do with an arts degree (a good one by Stacey Steele is in The Voice vol 11 issue 35 (http://www.ausu.org/voice/archives/articledisplay.php?ART=1856&issuesearch=1135)) I’ve taken quizzes and aptitude tests. I’ve focused on resume writing and tried researching various career choices. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I’m still stuck. The only way I think I can decide is to get out there and try different jobs, and what’s wrong with that?
Graduation is intimidating because it really represents testing your skills and challenging your education. You’re forced to ask yourself, now that you’ve done all the work to complete your degree, was it really worth it? The answer of course, is inconclusive and at times very frustrating – it is worth what you make of it.
I think I will graduate and pound the pavement with the countless others who have just graduated. Rejection is better than cowering beneath my pile of books. Besides, maybe the safety net actually did help me, and hiding out for the six years it will have taken me to get my degree will enable me to rise to the challenge. If not, there’s always serving tables and my masters degree.