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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Is life after graduation possible?

    As graduation day approaches, one question inevitably crowds out all the other, happier thoughts of caps and gowns, diplomas and parties. That question is as simple as it is frightening: “”What am I going to do now?””

    This question isn’t the same as “”How am I going to find a job?”” Jobs are one thing. Finding something you’re going to spend your life doing until retirement age is quite another. Some people never figure that one out.

    If you’re one of this upcoming year’s incoming students, chances are that this question hasn’t yet entered your mind. You’re busy with other questions, and the problem of what to do with your life after graduation – with the overwhelming majority of your life, that is -ÿseems as remote and unthreatening as the planet Neptune.

    But this question will return to gnaw at you. Not this year, perhaps; by the time you’re a junior, though, it’s going to be hovering around your existence like one of those awkward teaching assistants who can’t stop puttering around the room during your final exam.

    Eventually, your time’s going to be up. The sweat drops will begin to glisten on your brow. You’ll begin scanning the classified pages (or their online equivalent for the Facebook generation, Craigslist) with increasing anxiety.

    You’ll start thinking about your parents and wonder if you’ll ever be content where you are. You’ll glance at luxurious-looking houses as you drive and wonder if you’ll ever own a living space bigger than a walk-in closet. The crushing expenses of real-world existence -ÿstudent loans, car payments, monthly rent -ÿstart to look more and more, well, crushing.

    Here’s what I’d like to write: It’s not as big a deal as you’re going to think it is. It’s not going to be the end of the world if you pop on your graduation cap without putting the finishing touches on your life’s plan. Everything’s going to be OK.

    Had I ended my college career a couple of years ago, I probably would have written those words. But we live in a different world now, and the evidence is all around us.

    Favorite local shops are closing down, and some of them aren’t being replaced. Friends and family members openly speak about their fear of losing their jobs. Every week the newspapers are full of new reports on the dismal state of our economy, as lame and deflated as a four-day-old toy balloon.

    Very few graduates can shrug off their gowns and hang up their diplomas and look forward to stepping into a secure lifetime job, but the situation seems particularly dire for UA graduates who want to stay in Tucson.

    Aspiring journalists can’t feel much comfort heading out to find a job in a city that just lost one of its two daily newspapers. Nor can future academics eyeing a job at the UA feel much confidence that their preferred position will still exist in five years.

    Even a business degree, that safest and most sensible of college career choices, no longer looks like a safe bet now that Wall Street has come unraveled before our eyes.

    In short, graduation won’t signal the end of your worries, as you might fondly think during one of those fevered all-nighters cramming for a calculus final or writing a ten-pager on Samuel Richardson’s “”Pamela.”” Unfortunately, it means the end of those ephemeral worries and the beginning of your real worries.

    So enjoy these four years while you have them. For all their drawbacks -ÿearly-morning classes, scorching afternoons, WebReg – they may well prove to be the most secure years of your life. But don’t forget what comes next. Those days that seem like they’re going to last forever? Well, they won’t.

    Regardless of what year it turns out to be, graduation marks the start of a new world, a new kind of existence. Here’s hoping your graduation year’s a more hopeful one than mine.

    Justyn Dillingham is the editor in chief of the Arizona Summer Wildcat. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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