Opinion

Mom and Dad, I graduated- now what do I do?

As I leave the office early and step into my Cadillac Escalade, both my car phone and my mobile start ringing, one to a reggae beat, the other imitating a melody from “the sound of music”, I repress a smile and pick up my car phone. It’s Mary, my helper, she wants to know if she should start dinner soon since I’m coming home early. I tell her not to worry about fixing anything for the rest of the week as I am dining out with Thomas tonight and flying to the Greek islands tomorrow for an improvised mini vacation.
When I wake up from this particular dream I face a completely different reality. -one where I am graduating in May and haven’t the faintest clue of where life is going to toss me next. Rather ironic isn’t it? We grow up hearing there’s a certain pattern to follow if we wish to achieve success: high school, college, great job. We study frantically to obtain decent scores on the SATs; we fill out numerous college applications and chew our nails while waiting for the verdicts. We finish what’s left of our nails when we get into college and have to deal with cruel midterms, massive term papers and sadistic finals. But so far it’s ok, we trust the system, we’re in college, we’re on the right track.
We of course hear horror stories here and there about college graduates who don’t get hired upon graduation and end up stuck in a low-paying position with no immediate way out. We hear those tales but they only begin to wear tangible meaning when we are seven months away from graduation and realizing that life ‘post- commencement’ might not turn out the way we envisioned it in our dreams. What about the pattern? High school plus college (private and very expensive) equals automatic success, right? Wrong!
As the pressure rises with every unreturned phone call from potential employers, I consider the frightening possibility that the college diploma I’ll receive in May could end up being nothing more than a white piece of paper with my name on it stating that I’ve fulfilled a number of academic requirements-a piece of paper I may hand to mom and dad who will probably hang it on their living room wall.
Although I may never drive a Cadillac or live in a posh neighborhood, I intend to use whatever knowledge I’ve gained and wisdom I’ve accumulated towards making it in this life. I did not take out so many loans, stay up so many nights, and dedicate so many semesters of my existence to school to end up just ‘surviving’. So bring it on world, my diploma and I will be ready for battle.
Neli Lalanne is a senior majoring in marketing.

November 12, 2002

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The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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