It’s early April and, as a senior, you’re getting ready to graduate in just over a month. Maybe you’re happy to move on and ambitious to start the next chapter of your life. Maybe you have a job lined up already, or are going to continue on to graduate school, accumulating even more student loan debt. 

For some, though, graduating can be a daunting chapter in life. Let’s be real, how ready are we, really? 

Taxes, credit scores, fixing a flat tire and other daily “adult” tasks might have been ironed out already for you in the past four years in college. If so, then great. That’s the minimum of where we should be at right now. 

What becomes more trivial is how we go out into the world now and utilize these expensive degrees we’ve worked so hard on over many years. Our parents and grandparents give us all the same speech over the course of one Thanksgiving or another: “Your generation has to save this world.” 

But, how? Why is the responsibility on us? 

How now do we go into the world with a B.A. in environmental studies and right all of the environmental wrongdoings of the baby boomers? 

How do the political science students take on entry-level government jobs and attempt to set better examples than the recently indicted Donald Trump? Well, that one may be easy to do. Nonetheless, it is still a stressful task. 

This begs the question, has Eckerd prepared us enough to face these real world issues? How will we now go out into the world and create meaningful change? 

Imagining Justice was an interesting course, and one that can be challenging in the best way when it forces students to experience new perspectives. Then, in discussions about these new perspectives, we contemplate how we define justice and how that applies to the texts we read. But then it stops there. These conversations can be great and impactful, and some can really inspire people in the moment. But if you aren’t already a part of an activist group, are you really going to take those conversations further? 

These discussions, though, do provide some insight into how we can be critical thinkers in a professional setting. The average distance an Eckerd student travels to attend is 1000 miles. We all come from different walks of life, all having different perspectives. Classes like Human Experience and Imagining Justice are so imperative in that they force us to break out of the molds we’ve been living in and be open to so many new perspectives. 

Not everything we “learn” during our time in college is academic. Yes, the degrees we are earning have their place, but this is also the most crucial time for us to grow as humans. Being thrust into a new place with new surroundings and new people, we are forced to adapt quickly. We learn new social skills if we take the opportunity to branch out and not just sit in our rooms all day. 

One of the most important things we learn that prepares us for the “real world” is the ability to balance. Some people need to work one or two on campus jobs while also taking four or five classes a semester and still finding time to socialize. We learn how to multitask not just in our academics but in all aspects of our life. This is where the true development is. 

College isn’t always about digging your nose in a book, sitting in the library for hours on end. That is important, sometimes, but it’s also so important that we take the time to go out and try new things. We change our majors, we fail tests, we say the wrong thing to a friend. In our twenties, it’s all about trial and error.

With that in mind, Eckerd College is a great place to really begin development as we get ready to face the real world. Will we have all the answers when we graduate? Will we know exactly what to do with our degrees? Will we get the most perfect job right away? 

Probably not. But that’s the beauty of it. We now have to take the personal development skills that Eckerd has taught us and just try to make a difference, no matter what that means. 

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