Creeping Graduation Nostalgia

One can almost smell the barbecues in backyards and parks all across the Southland, celebrating the recently graduated class of 2014 (in fact, some schools have already been let out). Students are getting their invitations printed and mailed, folks and relatives are marking their calendars, and the TSA is putting their gloves on to cavity search every single person that will walk into Angel Stadium. It’s beautiful, and yet it’s not.

For every great rehashed graduation speech from every honorary member invited by some honorary group of people high up in some honorary administrative building, there sits a group of graduating students, tassel and all, eternally fearful of what is to come.

Those balloons that read “Congrats Grad!” should instead be reading “Good Luck Bro.” The most important times in a person’s life is when important decisions have to be made about their life. The end of graduation is definitely an important, if not the most important, time in a person’s life. It is practically impractical to believe a person will have the rest of their life planned by the age of 21 or 22, because life can take so many turns. For those who have absolutely no shred of a clue what to do post-graduation, the anxiety cannot be any higher.

“Good Luck Bro” isn’t just another phrase but an adage to the coming storm that is graduation. Graduates face an increasingly bleak job market that continues to look worse than before, besides all the cries of growth by the politicians. The likelihood of landing a decent job post-graduation is low, very low. Students are returning to their parents’ houses to live out of their basements, unable to find any decent amount of work that would allow them to permanently leave the nest. Instead, graduates become what one irritated female coined, “professional resume givers.”

With each congratulatory picture taken, the graduate is reminded of the looming decision of what they want to do with their life. A great multitude of graduates leave school without any direction because they cannot settle on a career or path in life. Not having a clear path can be a recipe for disaster. We all know we do not want to working at a local food joint to help pay rent while making no progress in life.

The lack of stability also strikes fear into graduates’ hearts. School provides us a sense of stability, of a routine schedule of classes, work, internship, club, fraternity, etc. Once school ends, the graduate has the choice to continue these commitments while others have to end them by nature of no longer being a student. With the lack of a class and work schedule made possible only by being a student, the graduate is left with the predicament of no longer having a sense of stability in their life. There may be more time to get more things accomplished, but there is no longer a steady stream of work and deadlines, which are the only things keeping these students afloat to wherever they are to drift.

There is a definite anxiety with graduation, particularly for those who are not ready for it. The looming life decision, the lack of a stable job market, and the lack of stability in one’s life – all these things can make a person’s head spin. For anyone who is feeling the heat, you are not alone.

And then there are the student loans…

 

David Vu is a third-year public health policy major. He can be contacted at davidnv@uci.edu.