Holding a diploma, the least of it all: years to find ourselves

TEMP ORARY October 3, 2012 0

Every week, while procrastinating, I scroll through Yahoo!’s ticker. I make my way through reviews of the latest TV shows and, of course, the do-it-yourself solutions to just about anything. Without fail, at least one article always scrolls by about which college majors will result in high-paying jobs, which majors are useless and which will yield the best jobs for introverts or extroverts.
The mantras we all heard at high school graduation ceremonies ring faintly in the back of my mind during these moments. We were told to follow our dreams, to be all that we can be and, of course, to brace ourselves for all of those loans.
Now a junior, I feel the overwhelming and frustrating prospect of finishing out the remaining courses that I need to graduate. I count credits and, on occasion, envision my remaining time in college simply drawn out in blocks of time. Two semesters per year, four credits per class. But what does it all add up to?
In addition to scrolling through Yahoo!’s ticker, I have also recently acquired the bad habit of counting how many lines long my classmates’ and colleagues’ email signatures are. The list of clubs and leadership roles are endless. Contact information and club affiliation seems to be particularly important.
Despite this over-involvement (and my inevitable time left as an undergraduate – time-capsuled or not), I have wondered how college might be different if we focused only on what we are truly passionate about. Instead of padding our resumes with an unending list of extracurricular activities and attending college only for a degree, how might life as an undergraduate differ?
After spending three years in college and a few thousand (or more) dollars in tuition, I have come to the realization that college is more than simply doing homework and taking tests. It is, as speakers often say at graduation, the first step of the rest of our lives. It is the place where interests are engaged, learning is fostered, and preparations are made for the future.
It is where we first explore, where we experience our first failures and successes. And, it is where we find what we are passionate about. In the end, holding a diploma might feel like the least of it all.

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