Search Box

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Party's over.

Every spring graduating college students fling their caps up into the air in a frenzy of mass exultation.

It's as if they're saying, "We're finally out of this prison! We're free now!"

Free from what? Having around ten hours of courses a week, doing a little homework, and partying the rest of the time?

I can see why kids are happy to get out of high school. In most high schools they're confined to classrooms for roughly thirty-five hours a week, have little choice about what they study, eat lousy high school cafeteria food for lunch, and at the end of the day get to go home to their parents.

In college, you get to live in a dorm with other young people, all of whom have as few responsibilities as you. It's your first taste of real freedom, far away from Mom and Dad's prying eyes. You're young and energetic and at the peak of your looks. So is everyone else. Everyone is single, which means they're pretty much available. And everyone likes to drink -- which makes them even more available.

You have to wonder about those joyful faces at graduation. Do they have any idea of what they're facing? The lucky ones -- or the smart ones, who majored in something practical -- have jobs. A job means responsibility. You have to show up on time, make an effort to get along with people you don't like, and keep your boss happy. (You may not see yourself as an ass kisser in college, but that'll change soon enough.) You don't get to choose your coworkers, and you spend an awful lot of time with them. And they're all way older than you.

The unlucky grads will be going home to live with their parents again.

So why the celebration? College graduation should look more like a funeral. Because all you're "celebrating" is that the party's over.

Good luck, and enjoy that forty hour work week with old people.

(Not a very timely post, I realize, but I was reminded of this by the recent decisions by Columbia and Harvard Law schools to allow their students to postpone finals because of the recent grand jury decisions.)


Anonymous said...

John, I just said to my daughter, who graduated from college in May, "I feel for your brother studying so hard for finals this week. He's hardly getting any sleep. This is the first time you haven't had to study for finals in years." I thought she would tell me that, yes, that was one upside to having graduated. But instead she looked at me, incredulous, and said, "Who wouldn't want to go back to college, even if there are finals? That's the best time ever." So I chuckled when I read your column. Julie

John Craig said...

Julie --
Thank you. This confirms what I thought about your daughter having her feet planted squarely on the ground.

Taylor said...

You're absolutely right. I hardly celebrated graduation... I saw it for what it was. I think most graduates figure it out within 48 hours. The day after graduation (and all the partying surrounding it) everyone wakes up hungover and depressed. "Wait, I have to go home now!?"

Steven said...

One of my best friends never got laid at uni but hit his stride later on and got to enjoy the company of some very attractive young women. Sometimes people come into their own a bit later.

I put quite a lot of pressure on myself in my final year and worked hard so I was glad when it was over with a decent result.

Then there's the ones who, away from the soothing security of mum and the discipline of routine, sleep crazy hours, have too much time to think, smoke weed everyday, and develop mental problems. Philosophy students who are taught to question everything are particularly vulnerable to this. I knew some of these guys too.

wow this comment was grim but I went to uni and my experience was that it wasn't really like in the movies.

I do have a cousin who says, like many people no doubt, it was the best time of her life but I think a lot of the people I knew, I'm pretty sure it wasn't the best time of their lives.

What a f***ing depressing comment.

John Craig said...

Steven --
That's okay, you just added a note of reality, that's all.
And you're right, a lot of people do go off in different directions they shouldn't.

I have to admit, I didn't take advantage of my university years the way I should have, either. Youth is wasted on the young, as they say.

Anonymous said...

Oh god... leaving university and joining the workforce literally ruined my faith in humanity.