Where to begin? I suppose the worst thing about college is that it ultimately ends. For those entering as part of the class of 2011, that revelation is likely the farthest thing from your minds right now. As it should be, because it is very exciting time right now. For those entering your second, third, fourth, or eighth year as a student on the hill (for those in the latter category, kudos for delaying the horrifying inevitable), that concept is likely a little closer to your consciousness.
But regardless of whether you’ve been a student at McDaniel for three years or three minutes, I offer you all the same advice: enjoy it. These things don’t last. Take it from me, I’ve learned from experience.
I am a proud member of the class of 2008; I wrote for the Free Press, traveled abroad for both a semester and a Jan-term, and generally took advantage of a lot of the other opportunities McDaniel gave me. I may not have any basis for comparison, but I can honestly say that McDaniel did indeed live up to its mantra of “changing lives.” I lived the college-life in every way a person could, with good friends and fun nights, as well as failures and mistakes that are common for 18-year-old kids escaping the womb for the first time. And after it’s all been said and done, after a few months of reflecting on all that jazz, I can honestly say that I escaped the maze of higher education a smarter, well-prepared, better man.
Case-in-point: I’m currently in a season-long internship for the Baltimore Ravens right now. You can go to www.baltimoreravens.com (shameless promotion, I know) and see articles I wrote, and my name is on it! My picture is down at the bottom! I mean, how cool is that?
The answer is, of course, very cool. And let’s be honest, in today’s job market a little rare, for a recent graduate to find something so substantial and career-furthering. I graduated on a Saturday, interviewed for the job that following Wednesday, and got the fateful phone call offering me the job less than two weeks later. I am very proud of this, and I also consider myself very fortunate, knowing a lot of other people, some good friends of mine, are having a hard time finding something.
To be fair, acquiring the job forced me to grow up in a hurry. I had to fully commit to the lifestyle of working beyond the standard nine to five, five days a week routine, because that is what this job requires. I bought a new car, which required new car insurance, and I hope by the time this column hits the presses, I will have successfully acquired new health insurance.
But I suppose that’s the nature of entering the working world. I like where I am right now, and I think it’s where I’m supposed to be, what I’m supposed to be doing right now. But that doesn’t change the fact that I miss the hell out of college.
There it is kids, the point of this huge self-serving column. McDaniel was the right place for me, and it helped me get to the next right place for me, but the price you pay is that you can’t stay. There are those who prolong it, and others who find jobs there afterwards, but it’s never quite the same as when you were a student.
The place has its faults; look at my last column from the last issue last year if you don’t believe me. There are frustrations to be had, and for those new students, those frustrations will push some of you away. No school is for everybody.
But there is success to be had here. But more importantly, there is also happiness to be had here. Make no mistake: there is a difference between the two. Being successful indicates you’ve gotten everything you wanted. Being happy suggests you’ve wanted everything that you’ve gotten.
I was asked to write this column in hopes to inspire the whole “I could be you” scenario. I think I did that. But it was more important to me to stress that it is the time you spend on the Hill that makes you who are when you finally take that next step out of college. So appreciate the simple yet fragile concepts that inherit the Hill. Like professors who care about their students, who interact with them at every level. Or the close circles of friends that naturally form in the college environment that generations before have created. Enjoy your time here. Make the most of it, because when it’s over, that’s it.
When you finally do graduate, and it is over, you’ll understand that much more. And hopefully, you’ll be able to find the next right place for you to be, where ever that is, because of the time you spent on the Hill.