2009-07-02 / Sam Bari

The shortness of the graduation celebration

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
By Sam Bari

The academic year has concluded. Students across the country have celebrated high school and college graduations. Parties marked the festive events and all who attended had a good time. The commemorative books and memory banks have done their job and sealed the history of formal education for graduates everywhere.

Beaming parents can now send their ecstatic offspring out of the proverbial nest and into the world to claim their fortune.

Those graduating from high school will find the euphoria short lived. They will quickly discover that the age of innocence is over. They must now make crucial adult decisions. College, military service, a full-time job--those are the choices. How icky.

The college-bound bunch can look forward to being freshmen all over again. They will soon learn that the life of a college freshman, when compared to that of a high school freshman, is an entirely different world. The change is not for the better.

They will be strangers in a strange land with nobody to coddle them or even pick them up when they fall under the many different pressures they didn’t even know existed. Social pressures, academic workloads, maintaining their habitat and managing an unbelievably strict budget are waiting to greet them behind ivy-covered walls far away from home. Many will have the need to hold down at least a part-time job to help sustain life and fulfill obligations.

Did I forget to mention merciless professors who don’t know them, don’t care to know them and don’t have any sympathy for those who can’t “keep up?” How thoughtless of me.

At the end of the school year, the freshmen who have not dropped out will be made aware that the sophomore year they are entering the following fall will be much more academically demanding. Their freshman year was just a taste of what is yet to come.

Consequently, their summer vacations will be spent working a minimum of one full-time job and, more than likely, an additional part-time position. Only then will they have the needed funds to support them while they struggle with the academic demands of the upcoming semester.

If they have any free time, it will be spent earning money, unless they plan on sustaining life with a daily diet of mac ‘n’ cheese that comes in a box.

Many will ease the economic burden by sharing space with “the roommate from hell.” This charming person usually comes with enough luggage and personal belongings to stock a thrift shop for at least a semester. He or she would not notice if most of the stuff they brought was sold.

And where does said roommate store all of this gear? Funny you should ask. It takes up every square inch of space not occupied by the other roommate, who “was not using the space anyway.”

The “roommate from hell” traditionally entertains at home on a daily basis, has significant hygiene problems and likes music when it is played loud. Nonetheless, sharing a space does reduce expenses.

Now let’s take a small peek through an exclusive little window that reveals what the college grads have in store for their future. The choices are graduate school plus a full-time job, military service with a part-time job or two full-time jobs. Why the need for so many revenue-generating positions? The average college graduate has somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 in student loans that need to be satisfied.

What’s that? You didn’t think about that when you applied for college? You don’t say? A small oversight, was it?

Now, those who are going to graduate school, med school, law school, etc., ad nauseam, will have even more student loans to pay back. Professional jobs don’t come cheap. Houses can cost much less.

After looking at the future, how do those who are still in high school feel about graduating? Is high school really such a bad place to be? And those who are making it through college—do you really want to graduate? No reason to be in such a rush, is there?

Don’t let me frighten you. Many bright young students attain scholarships, grants and other methods of paying for their education. Unfortunately, that is a small percentage of those who earn coveted degrees from institutions of higher learning.

Think about this: After the student loans are paid, the next step is marriage and children, and ultimately sending them off to survive on their own in a system they can’t understand.

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