YOU ARE THE most important part of college.
After all the sound and fury, after all the song and dance, you are what you get out of college. Your personal development and other good habits prepare you for the workplace, where most of us will spend the rest of our lives.
The diploma is nice, but wonâ€™t impress anyone. The stole feels like cheap cloth stretched over cardboard.
Letâ€™s not even get started on the tassle.
Most tassles are either drab earth tones or hideous pastels.
I thanked my lucky stars before I graduated that Arts and Humanitiesâ€™ tassle was white â€” thatâ€™s one thatâ€™s hard to screw up.
No tassle, no diploma, no stole, no gown matters in the end. No employers care whether or not you attend the overlong graduation ceremony where people youâ€™ve never met get honors youâ€™ve never heard of.
Iâ€™d bet Joyalâ€™s gold-lined pockets that the administrationâ€™s main concern is getting you out of Fresno State in a timely fashion.
After all, to the higher body of Fresno State officials you are a product.
I doubt youâ€™d agree.
For you, graduating will be the culmination of a long, hard haul â€” you carefully balanced your freshman-year drunkenness with last yearâ€™s studiousness, and you had generally passing grades.
As long as youâ€™re gone, the administration doesnâ€™t care about your personal triumphs if they wouldnâ€™t look good in advertising literature.
This is easily clarified. One graduation is a miracle, but one thousand is a statistic. For those of you keeping score at home, that paraphrases and takes out of context the bloodiest Soviet premierâ€™s defense of genocide.
I doubt you came to college because you like that heartwarming cog feeling.
I also doubt most of us came to college primarily to learn things for the sake of learning.
Including high school and earlier, youâ€™ve had a whole decade and a half of school, and for what?
What does college give you, and why is working at Krispy Kreme right out of high school appealing?
The answer is as obvious as it is concise: money. More money, specifically. Higher salaries, with better benefits. The American dream, however antiquated, is to own a house with a front yard better than the guy next door.
If you agree, youâ€™re not alone: 70 percent of all college freshmen go to college for the money, according to a January survey from UCLA.
Thatâ€™s why education is important. Our exposure to critical thinking and philosophy might serve us well in our personal lives, but that kind of understanding will really pay off when you get a job and your employer actually wants perspective.
Even though as far as the university is concerned youâ€™re a product, you probably care a whole lot more about your well-being.
The last time I addressed graduation and finding a job, I stressed the importance of getting an internship.
Internships are certainly important, and will fill your straight-out-of-college resume very nicely.
Internships give you practical experience, doing what you want to do for the rest of your life.
Perhaps as important is your personal development.
What good are you to an employer when youâ€™re a pompous jerk? What good are you to an employer when you turn out to be incommunicative? What good are you to an employer when you start mouthing off about quality concerns within potential customersâ€™ earshot?
No good at all.
The best part about this personal development is that it only takes a few moments of self-reflection, sustained over the two, three, four or six years until you matriculate.
Ask yourself: why arenâ€™t I doing better than the guy three rows in front of me who wonâ€™t stop asking our professor all those questions?
What do my friends expect of me in interpersonal relationships?
Whatâ€™s the deal with being on time, and why canâ€™t I get people to cut me some slack?
In general, what arenâ€™t I doing as well as I can?
In general, blame yourself.
In general, find a solution from there, and work toward it.
This is what employers want in those fields with higher salaries with better benefits.
Employers need employees who like improving themselves, and can do it without goading.
Thatâ€™s something youâ€™ll never read on a diploma.
Benjamin Baxter is a post-baccalaureate student working toward his high school credential in social science. Advice be damned, he tossed his stole in the air at his graduation ceremony last year.