Just Another Graduation Day

graduation ceremony

Today i was at another graduation ceremony, my last for the next while at least… it feels like a day wasted but it’s something that had to be done, i could never not attend big ‘life’ events like these…

A celebration 4 months out of date

Graduation for me was on June 18th as that’s when i got my results which confirmed i’d passed everything. So recognising that achievement now doesn’t really mean anything to me, it’s an emotionless event because i’m focused on other things. Quoting Steve Jobs and telling people the world is their oyster is not something that should be done 4 or 5 months after somebody has left college, when they’ve most likely already made plans and are working somewhere / perusing further studies. So for me, the timing is all wrong and i said the same last year…

In fact i said last year it was a ‘distraction’ from further studies. We just don’t do it right. Graduation should be straight after results in the summer time, especially if it’s being used as an opportunity to inspire students. But that’s the way it is here and it’s unlikely to change as it would mean repeat exams would need rescheduling plus lecturers would have to come in over summer.

End of the road

Whatever way you approach graduation, it signals the end of an era. The fun starts afterwards… up until finishing college and assuming you come straight out of school, your life is pretty much mapped out from the time you’re born.

  • primary school
  • secondary school
  • college

The only milestone in primary school is secondary school – that’s the only major change thrown at you. In secondary school, you’ve two milestones; junior cert and leaving cert. The former is on it’s way toward being scrapped and rightly so. Nothing will happen the leaving cert because nobody has the guts to change a system which is seen as ‘not broken’ by many. Anyway, it’s all mapped out… after leaving cert you go to college and once in college you look towards graduating which is a dot on the horizon.

What happens when you graduate? Pshhh… you tell me… anything can happen. Move abroad, travel the world for a year, set up a business, apply for a million jobs and get none, work as an unpaid intern, carry on to masters / PhD level. The paths are wide and varied. In my own group we’re all probably doing most of that stuff and more.

Do what you love and you’ll become rich and famous

For once, there are no arrows. The power to do whatever it is you want is placed firmly in your own hands and you’d hope that any graduate would be equipped with the knowledge & skills to persue whatever it is they want or at least take more steps towards persuing it. But wait  hang on a second… what if you don’t know what you want to do? This group of people usually get ignored and are told to follow their hearts or do whatever it is you love doing. What if somebody loves playing games at home all day long? Is it ok to just do that and collect the dole?Because according to that wonderful advice, they’re doing something they love, so that must be ok.

No… doing something you love is not necessarily going to create a job. To create a job for yourself or someone else you have to ‘create’ something that’s of value to other people and that’s not the message being preached… the message being preached is to do something you love. See the difference? It’s assumed that because people go to college they want to become doctors and laywers and rule the world but the reality is more and more are going to college simply because it’s the done thing, they don’t truly want to be there and haven’t put all that much thought in to it, hence the high drop out rates and course-switching early on.

It’s a mistake also to think that all graduates are incredibly motivated and hard working. Telling people to do what they love in my opinion is a dangerous thing to say. It’s implying ‘everything will work out in the end’ and perhaps allowing people to relax a bit too much. I know that if i were to get sucked in to today’s talks too much, i’d be feeling very proud & optimistic but i’d also be feeling a false sense of security or inflated sense of self worth. That’s all necessary in small doses but days like today won’t be motivating me years down the line… Results & achievements will. That’s why i was there today and it’s that kind of ‘measurable’ stuff which is a more powerful motivator for me…

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