Shelter from the Storm

Over the past few days I’ve been considering the following reality about my life: Next year at this time I will no longer be a college student. In fact, unless I continue with graduate studies here at St. John’s, in a year’s time for me to be sitting here on this computer in the Torch office would probably be considered trespassing.

These thoughts began shortly after I bumped into an old friend from freshmen year a few days ago who at one point in our conversation said, “It’s almost time to start being an adult, man.”

Those are pretty heavy thoughts, but they serve to remind and help me appreciate the cushioned life that college temporarily affords. There’s a framework you can count on, a steadiness that can be planned so long as you pay your tuition and keep up your grades. After graduation, that all goes away. It’s a real world job or bust.

Many of my good friends that have graduated in the past few years are finding this out firsthand. A very select few have found jobs and an even more select few have found great jobs they love. I can count the latter group of friends on one hand. The rest are still unemployed.

Which brings me to a question that I’ve been thinking about more than any other on this subject: Was it always this ridiculously difficult to embark on your desired career and succeed with a solid education? Surely this is a new trend that our generation must adjust to.

Those from our parents’ generation will probably quickly refute this, but that’s only because they know how hard it is out there right now and they want to prepare us, not shower us with sympathy and hand us excuses.

Between sending out endless resumes and watching obsessively for Emails and calls from possible employers, my post-grad friends have passed on some advice from the other side of college graduation: Do everything you can during the college years to separate yourself from everyone else. Obtain unique skills, seek interesting opportunities and create a gameplan for achieving your goals while still in school.

In a nutshell, be driven; push yourself to be the best you can be.

Now that I’m a senior, I feel it’s only right that I pass this on to my younger peers who may be just starting out here in Queens. If there’s one thing I can tell you with complete certainty, it’s that the rest of your time in college will fly by in a whirlwind. I don’t care if that’s a disgusting cliché; there’s a reason it’s used so often. Take advantage of everyday you have.

Internships are a great place to start. They offer you more than a classroom or teacher can give you, they offer experience. This is perhaps the most vital thing, besides your degree, that will make finding jobs a little easier. With New York City being one of the most fertile places in the world for internship opportunities, the chances of securing a good one increases dramatically.

The truth is, after graduation, your four years in college are all you have going for or against you. Your accomplishments are what will land you a job. The path you took and the degree you decided to earn will be a major factor in the direction your life takes.

That said, I think it’s troubling that in this day and age of rising graduation rates and increasing job competition that high school seniors are commonly told that they can spend their time in college “figuring it out.” I remember as I prepared to ship off to college and declare my major, everyone from my high school guidance counselor to teachers I respected greatly told me and my classmates that college was a time of figuring out what you want to do with your life.

Yes, the college years offer a growth period like no other, but college is only four years, and those years will greatly determine the situation you find yourself in after you pick up that piece of paper which is worth a small mortgage (more commonly known as your degree).

Telling students that the college years are for “figuring things out” is a cruel joke designed to alleviate pressure; it only causes students to coast.

But maybe that’s just me.

Welcome to college, freshmen. Enjoy every day and night that the next four years throw at you, but keep in mind that your days are slowly building up to a life that doesn’t resemble an Asher Roth music video.