Close to a month ago from this posting, I graduated from college. I donned a black cap and gown and joined hundreds of fellow graduates marching into a spacious arena on campus to collectively bid farewell to our undergraduate lives.
It was surreal and exciting.
I was a non-traditional student who returned to college after a solid break. I still remember my first day of the fall semester when I returned back in 2016. The lengthy journey that lay ahead felt like an impossible eternity. Everyone kept telling me that it was going to fly by in a hurry. Well, I actually never felt that way.
I was one of those students who went all in. I decided to be as engaged as I possibly could. All of my assignments were turned in on time, and I did not miss a single class regardless if I was sick or exhausted. No, my college days did not rush by me. My meticulousness with my studies often felt like time was slowed down every day. I diligently plowed through so much work that my days often felt long and arduous.
I did all of this and then some, and I did it because I truly wanted to finish what I started. I wanted to do it well and to learn as much as I possibly could.
With some distance from the whole college experience and time to think about its impact, there are two big takeaways which I now hold dear:
- THE LEARNING MUST NEVER END.
Being in college gave me a controlled and concentrated environment in which to learn. The learning made me more competent, confident, and capable.
Why should this only happen in college and end when I graduate?
Truthfully, it shouldn’t. Learning is a primary key toward personal growth and self-empowerment, and I want to be as strong and qualified as I can possibly be. By now, I have already purchased two tutorials for some new software that I want to learn, and I am currently one-fifth of the way through the first one.
- SEEK OUT MENTORS.
I cultivated good relationships with all of my professors not because I wanted to kiss-up to them but because it was their job to help me attain knowledge and grow as a thoughtful individual. To me, professors were more like mentors who guided me toward a higher level of understanding. One of the best aspects of getting an education is that it grants students immediate and intimate access to people who are experts in their respective fields. This is incredibly valuable.
In time, I hope to meet with more people who have the knowledge, skills, and experience I want to obtain. Since I will not be around such people all of the time like I was in college, I will need to work harder to seek them out, but these connections are worth their weight in gold simply for the wealth of information one can learn from them.
I plan on writing another one of these reflections six months after my graduation date. It may be amusing to see the broader picture of how my college education will have changed me and the kinds of decisions I will want to make.
Until then, I am slowly easing into my post-undergraduate life. I have numerous decisions to make and more adventures to behold.
My college diploma, which I did not actually receive at my graduation ceremony, arrived in the mail today. It symbolizes so much hard work and deep commitment on my part.
I will hold on to my diploma with great pride.