In two weeks Elizabethtown College is asking five hundred of its most dedicated, hard-working students to politely leave. Throwing us through the Etown bubble into a world that four years of classes taught us is in ruins. Deserting us for a new batch of unpolished, wide-eyed 18-year-olds who know more about Snooki and iCarly than Cory Matthews and Doug Funnie. Who do they think they are? And who do they think we are? Do eight semesters of term papers and finals equate to making us ready for this “real world” everyone speaks of?
The answer, as any senior can tell you, is no. Because no matter how often we studied until closing in the library or grimaced at our first early warning, the value of an Etown education can’t be summed up with a GPA on our final transcript. Because after all of the theories and facts that I have tried to force into my brain over the past four years, the most important lesson I’ve learned while living off Alpha Drive is what it means to truly be thankful.
During that time, I’ve become thankful for the opportunities Etown presents its students. I’m also thankful that they refuse to hold your hand along the way. I’m thankful for every person who has held the BSC doors for me and for each person who has cared enough to flash a smile at a stranger; for every unexpected blue slip in my mailbox and for every extra swipe at the Marketplace.
Finally, I’m thankful that you don’t need a virtual friend list or address book to tell you how many people care about you across campus. Every little conversation between academic buildings is a small part of our ever-growing Etown network — a real network, where an entire conversation can be held with a passing smirk or a pat on the back, reminding you everything is alright. It’s perfect.
Because instead of a text-heavy transcript and a seal of approval, what we all really take away from our time as students at Etown are the tremendous relationships we all form. The friends who will help you prepare for a test are the same ones that will remind you what happened Saturday night. These friends are what make up the heart of our campus. They’re what remind us that this isn’t just college, but home.
Again the question must be asked:“Has Etown prepared us to step into the real world?” I don’t think so. I think it’s done more than that. None of us will ever feel “ready” for the real world because we already stand out in our own little corner of it. And if we use the tools that this campus has thrown upon us, we’ll be able to stand out in our next journey as well.
So as nostalgia creeps further into our remaining time at Etown and the worries of moving on begin to accumulate, take a moment to stop and consider all that we have been given instead of all that we’ll be leaving behind. In the end, those seemingly insignificant moments we’ve shared set us apart from the rest of the country’s graduates, and remind us that we will always be Blue Jays. Always.