Advice for the Class of 2000

By Jan Creaser

As convocation approaches, I have one really important thing I want to say to my graduating class:

"Whatever happens, don’t whine and don’t be afraid."

When I first decided to go back to university, several acquaintances crawled out of the woodwork to criticize pursuing a degree. Their comments boiled down to one dubious, emotion-laden point: there were, apparently, no jobs for university graduates unless you studied engineering, management or computer science. This idea seemed ludicrous three years ago and it seems more so now, particularly to this newly graduated social science major.

The people who whine about a lack of jobs actually mean a lack of "good jobs." Presumably, these individuals want to read novels all day or dole out philosophical tidbits for the low, low price of a middle-class salary. When that doesn’t happen, they start bitching.

As well, some people whisper cautiously about their fear of post-university life–a fear based mostly on the prospect of not finding that perfect dream job. They believe academia is somehow safer than the outside world.

Truth be told, they’re both about equal. You encounter those who know more than you and those who know less than you in both environments. In both, you have to work hard to get what you want. You want straight A’s, you work hard. You want a good job, you start by working hard in the not-so-good job. It sounds simple, but many think a university degree entitles them to riches and total life satisfaction at the age of 21. Also, neither world is fair all the time.

The people who are afraid or think only crappy jobs await them outside the Ivory Tower missed the point of university entirely. If they did university right, the future shouldn’t scare them–no matter what faculty they got their degree in.

Depressed by the rising level of our student loans, my friends and I came up with an analogy to combat the need to whine about money, jobs or life in general. We vehemently declared we’d rather drop 30 grand on our education than a fancy new car. The idea stuck, particularly as we learned more. The newest twist is this: they can repossess your car, but they can’t repossess your mind, even if you end up defaulting on your loan.

So I say again, "Whatever happens, don’t whine and don’t be afraid." Your degree might not have given you the middle-class utopia you craved, but it gave you a basis from which to analyze, critique and potentially redefine or redesign the whole world, if only in your head. So what if it cost you more than you’ll make in a year?


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