Dear Class of 2022,
Congratulations! You finally made it! You have accomplished something so incredibly difficult and have shown resilience when adversities were thrown your way. Being a recent graduate, I remember how easy it was to overlook the greatness of this achievement for two main reasons: one, there is the pressure that you are expected to graduate if you enter college, and two, there is the overwhelming worry of finding a job or figuring out what to do next.
First, take a second to stop and reflect on those years of your college experience. Starting in your first year or two, think about not only the adjustment you had to make to this new level of learning and maybe even living if you lived on campus, but also the personal growth you made. You adapted to new learning methods that allowed you to succeed in classes and continue in your education. You made friends and built new connections to help support you through college. Once you established how to successfully learn and built your social community to lean on during the early years, COVID came in and challenged everything you’d developed. In the face of this next obstacle, you adapted again and found different solutions in order to remain successful in the new online learning environment. Again, you added many more skills to your toolbox. Finally, normalcy began to return your last year of undergrad. You had to brush off those skills from the beginning of college, but none-the-less you were able to use them to their fullest potential to finish the journey and graduate!
Now think about all those hard times that helped you to build those skills – late nights in the library, trial and error study methods and maybe even the bad grades that came along with that, studying alone until you found a group who also learned like you. The list I’m sure goes on and on… Also, only about 46% of students finish their program and graduate from their institution. You encountered challenges left and right, and the odds were not in your favor. But YOU did it. YOU overcame all those difficulties. Regardless of whether there was pressure on you to graduate, this is a big deal!
Okay so now you may be saying to me, “Wow Christina, thanks for that realization. I am taking these skillsets into my new job/graduate program” or you’re saying, “Well yeah Christina, this is pretty cool, but I don’t know what I’m doing with the rest of my life”. If you are one of the latter (like I was), just take a breath and move forward day by day (I know, much easier said than done). Be open to all opportunities and apply to jobs out of your field or comfort zone. You never know how you’ll react to different experiences until you try. What’s the worst that could happen? You get some interview experience, and they say no? Then that opportunity wasn’t for you and wouldn’t allow you to keep growing. Take your time and don’t be afraid to try something new. You graduated college! You have proven you are qualified to think outside the box to accomplish a goal.
Hey, at the end of the day at least you finally received that really expensive piece of paper! If there is anything you should take away from this letter and reflection, it is that you are resilient and proved to the world that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Embrace every opportunity that comes your way with 110% of your effort and with an open mind.
– Christina Lavin, Research Analyst