Today, a few of my friends will graduate with their Master’s degrees from the seminary I attended. While I am not able to attend, with the help of modern technology I am able to watch it live on my computer. It is strange to think that 3 years ago I myself was graduating. It seems as though it happened eons ago. I am so proud of my dear friends who will be donning their caps, gowns and hoods tonight. For some, it is a brief pause before diving into even more academic work. For others, it may mean entering into the unknown. Regardless, I hope and pray that they will have space to celebrate and rest.
Here are the things I wish I would have known when finishing college, both undergrad and grad:
Graduating is Hard
Yes, there are celebrations, parties, the cessation of homework, but the rhythm of college life is very different from the rhythm of a working life. I missed the flexibility my schedule held in college. I enjoyed both of my college experiences and transitioning on was incredibly difficult for me. When I graduated with my BA, I remember wondering why no one told me how hard it was. I didn’t realize how much I needed to grieve the completion of this stage of life.
Everyone Will Ask you What You Are Doing Next
This question is especially daunting when you have no idea what you’re doing next, which let’s be honest, most of us have no idea. I was so tired of that question, so had a set answer ready to go: I’m going to enjoy the break and start job hunting. Beyond that, I had no idea. It is even more challenging when you have an obscure degree, like my Master’s in Spiritual Formation and Soul Care. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my program, but I get why people get that confused look on their face when I mention it. I’m surprised I never heard the response, “So, when will you start applying to be a janitor?”
A Degree Does Not Guarantee a Job
I realized soon after finishing my undergrad degree that a degree does not equal a job. The working world is a strange place. You can’t get hired without a degree, but the degree by itself is not enough. One also needs experience, but you can’t get experience without a job (or an internship). This seemingly endless circle drove me crazy.
You Are Not Alone
There were many times that I felt alone as I transitioned out of undergrad and grad school. I kept thinking I should be happy for my accomplishments and get over my sadness. However, I think many are having similar thoughts and struggles as they finish school. So, risk and open up to a friend. They just might be feeling the same. And of course, there is always God, who promises to never leave nor forsake us. That can be incredibly hard to believe when our world seems turned upside down. It is in those times when we desperately need a reminder of God’s presence with us. For those graduating, may you be reminded, whether through scripture, song, friends, etc., that he is right by you.
Despite the challenges that may come with graduation, take time to catch your breath and enjoy the moment. Congratulations to the class of 2013!