Thursday, June 4, 2009

Oh the places you'll go

I read with keen interest the mid-May Senior Issue of Grinnell’s student newspaper, The Scarlett and Black, devoted to the launch of newly minted Grinnell graduates from the Class of 2009. A quick review of post-graduate plans reveals:

• a large slice of the class heading overseas for work, service, or both in countries such as Egypt, China, and Guatemala;

• another large percentage going on to graduate school in disciplines ranging from astronomy and engineering to history and international studies;

• an inclination to test driving their liberal arts degrees in such varied pursuits as joining the circus, farming, earning a commercial pilot certificate, and touring with the Dave Matthews Band.

Author Thomas Friedman addressed the Class of 2009 during this year’s commencement, calling them the “re-generation” and asking them to use their imagination to renew America. I’d say they are off to a good start by the variety of paths they are taking.

I can’t help but think that just four and a half years ago these graduates going out into the word were navigating the undergraduate admission frenzy of standardized testing, GPAs, extracurricular accomplishments, letters of recommendation and commendation, and essays. Now look at them. If you’re a student, you may find it hard during the college search process to shift your eyes to a point more distant than “will I be admitted” but I assure you it is worth doing. The prize isn’t getting into college; it’s what you choose to do with your educational opportunities once you are there and how those choices prepare you to lead your life to the fullest.

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