At one point during President Oden's speech at graduation last weekend he said, "You are Carleton students no longer." I've known this day was coming for the past year, but it was still a shocking realization. I'm done with college. I'll repeat it, to accentuate its importance. I'm done with college. And since I have no immediate plans for grad school, that means my life is going to be seriously lacking the structure of academia. And, just as frightening, it means I have to grow up and be an adult.
I've had a lot of talks with other members of the class of '09 these past few weeks, and while we're all sad to leave but pretty excited for the future, there's a little hesitation on what exactly Carleton's done for us to prepare us for that future. The other day I went tubing down the Canon River with about a dozen other seniors (something I highly recommend you try before you leave, you start behind Stadium and end up at the Steel Bridge at the end of the Arb and as long as the weather's nice it's probably the most relaxing 3 hours you'll spend in Northfield), and along the way I was talking to a friend who's been back and forth between wanting to go teach English in Korea or trying to get a job in New York. He wasn't sure whether or not Carleton really prepared him for the "Real World." Sure, Carleton holds your hand for most of your time here (the key to your dorm, money for laundry, library card, and payment for the dining halls was all on one handy little card that if you lost someone was sure to put in your mailbox a few hours later), but in the end, I feel like whatever your idea of the "Real World" is, Carleton is some of the best preparation you can have. My housemate from last year is getting his PhD in math, and he said compared to Carleton, it's easy. A lot of my friends have made use of various Carleton connections for internships and jobs after graduation. For me, I know this sounds cheesy, but I think Carleton taught me how to learn. Thanks to Carleton, I feel like I can pick up new ideas very quickly and approach them with multiple points of view from a variety of disciplines.
As for now, I've been enjoying a few days off with my friends (we watched 4 movies yesterday), but most of my immediate future plans are in place in a large part because of Carleton. I'm heading back down to Houston for the summer to work for Purple Songs Can Fly again. While I didn't take any Music Therapy or Child Development courses here at Carleton, the grant I received from the school helped fund my first trip down when I was an unpaid intern. After the summer, I'm starting work at Target's headquarters as a Business Analyst for the online division. I'm extremely excited (and whoever would have thought I'd stay in Minnesota?). I applied for the job through the Career Center here, and had a couple friends who graduated a few years before me who were working there that I got to talk to before my interviews. And I'm going to keep doing music as much as I can.
While the first part of Oden's speech may have been a shock to me (and really drove home that I can't keep saying my occupation is "Student" on any medical or insurance form I get), he ended his speech in the perfect way. "Carleton is a part of you, and you are a part of Carleton." And at least for me, sitting there in that hot robe trying to figure out a way to make my hat fit on my head, that was the best thing anyone could have told me. I might not be a Carleton student anymore, but there is no denying how important Carleton has been to my development in the past 4 years, and I'd like to think I've had a little bit of an impact on the school myself.