7 Thoughts on Graduation
Original post found on Medium here.
After 4 years of Undergraduate Business school, 137 credits and 2,500+ cans of beer, I attempt to reflect on my college experience in a non-cliché listicle:
Those who say that college years are the greatest 4 years of your life are underselling life’s potential.
College is great for a whole host of reasons, chief among them being the lack of pressing responsibilities, the proximity of your friends and the creativity with which your budget (or lack thereof) extends to the necessary items of beer and pizza but never quite includes room for textbooks. But to say that our time in college is the best in our entire lives is a pessimistic statement that sells short the possibilities that life has yet to reveal. I have loved my time in college, but I can’t wait to get out into the world, work my ass off, and see how high I can climb. We are living in a world with a brighter potential for the immediate future than in all of human history. College is just the beginning.
An undergraduate business degree is extremely valuable, but intellectually it is worth less than the piece of paper the degree is written on.
This summer I start work in J.P. Morgan’s Investment Bank, and a large reason I was able to score a job in such a prestigious bank is due to my Finance degree, and the many ancillary events hosted by our undergraduate business school. This is what undergraduate business schools excel at — pushing students into internships, encouraging them to think about how to fill their resumé early in college, and running networking events. For these reasons alone it is a rational and justifiable decision to attend undergraduate business school. But that does not make it challenging, stimulating or engaging. Of the 28 business school classes I have completed, I can honestly say that I was intellectually challenged in 4 of them. Much of business theory is common sense or purely mechanical until put into practice. I do not at all regret my undergraduate business education as it has positioned me where I am today, but for intellectual self-improvement I have had to look elsewhere.
College name and GPA don’t enable you to get internships and jobs, but they are hurdles that must be jumped.
A fantastic school name and fantastic GPA don’t increase your chances of getting a fantastic job, but a mediocre school name or a mediocre GPA not only decrease, but exclude you from getting the good jobs. It is nothing malicious or discriminatory, but simply the path of least resistance for recruiters looking to whittle an applicant pool of 100 candidates down to 10 for interview. This is a positive: from a recruiting stand point, if a minimum GPA of 3.5 is required, you are just as likely to get the job with a 3.6 as with a 4.0 — as long as you meet the threshold you will then be judged on the rest of your application/interview. The only way, however, to overcome an unrecognized school name or poor GPA is to use a connection to get an interview.
Senioritis is real and it hits the most motivated the hardest.
In a surprising turn of events, I have suffered from an acute bout of Senioritis over my ultimate year in college, and I have seen the same happen to some of my friends who were previously leading various groups and activities around campus. The college identity that has defined our prior three years begins to slip away in Senior Year, and the projects, events, and reforms that had previously consumed our days seem to fade in significance. By the time Spring semester arrives, we have resigned ourselves to the fact that there is no further change we can enact, and where we would once have felt guilt, there is now only a numb contentment that we will soon be out in the real world.
Talent is in abundance… If you seek it out.
Many of the college memories that will stick with me forever are the ones which involve seeing a friend, someone who I have shared meals, beers and everyday experiences with, do something extraordinary. Whether it is the business student who belongs on the stage leading harmonious acapella mashups of famous rap songs; the abstract art student who has become a vocal activist in supporting victims of the Armenian genocide; or the Dean’s List student who leads the offensive line in a League-winning football team, college students have talent in abundance. That girl you see at the bars every Friday night might also be the one on the volleyball court at 8am the next morning — it’s up to you to discover what makes them special.
College is not just for Singletons.
I have been very happily dating my girlfriend for almost all four years at Fordham, and as far as I am concerned it is the best possible way to experience college. Through four years we have grown and matured, at every turn shaping and molding each others experiences. We have done all the stupid-fun things that college students do, and we have done all the cutesy things that couples do, with the freedom to do them given our lack of responsibilities. Many of my friends are very happily single and have enjoyed all that being single in college entails. I’m very happy for them, but I wouldn’t change my experience for the world.
Time flies in college… and that’s a good thing.
My college experience has helped me discover what I really care about, who I really care about and what (I think) I want to do in life. In the process, I have amassed more friends than I can count (and the ten or so friends who matter the most), I have traveled to the other side of the world, and have enough anecdotes to fill a novel. Time flies in college, but with graduation around the corner almost all Seniors I know are ready to take the leap into the “real world”. After four years, I am ready for what’s next; in fact, I yearn for it.