Life After College

By Scott Smith

Most everyone can remember their high school years and how they seemed to go on forever. For me, there were exciting times like getting my learner’s permit, getting a job, getting a car and

being able to drive on my own, but there were also times that were less than stellar.

High school was an obligation, and I looked forward to the day that I would graduate and leave it far behind.

I was like many students, and at the time, did not know what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.

I thought about college at one point but chose to go to work instead. It wasn’t until much later in my life that the opportunity for a college education presented itself.

Thirty-two years after graduating from high school, I made the decision to further my education.

I began my journey at Cameron in fall 2019.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I knew it was something that I needed and wanted to do.

Working full-time and being a full-time student is difficult, to say the least.

Now, with just 19 hours left to go, I am looking at graduation in May 2024.

With college, time definitely hasn’t stood still.

The past four years have been a whirlwind of work combined with classes and new experiences.

The old feeling of what happens after has come back to me, and I am reminded of the similarity between graduating from high school and graduating from college.

I wonder how it will feel to walk across that stage for the last time and if I will miss college once it’s over.

For perspective, I called on a recent graduate to see how life has been since graduation.

Tori White is a librarian for the Elgin Public Library and graduated with her Bachelor’s of Journalism and Media Production on May 5, 2023, from Cameron University.

I wondered what life after graduation has felt like for her so far.

White said that she is proud of her accomplishment but also reflected on the friendships that she made while at Cameron as well as the emotions of leaving.

“Having them (friends) by my side the whole way through the journalism program and being able to finish together was really cool,” White said. “I’m the kind of person who hates endings, so that last week of the semester was really sad.”

White said that college friends differ from those in high school.

“In college, you have total autonomy of who you choose to spend your time around and it (graduating) was rough,” White said. “Obviously, we’re able to see each other from time to time, but not in that regimented environment. That was something to get used to, for sure.”

When it comes to what is next, White said with the time that has gone by she is getting the itch to learn something again.

“I’ve been looking into grad school. I would like to stay away for at least 16 weeks and take care of myself mentally,” White said, “that way I can be prepared to go full swing into a new academic program.”

White said she is looking to continue her education in spring or fall 2024 and hopes to study Library and Information Science.

As far as advice for outgoing graduates, White said, it may seem like everything is moving so slowly, but when you are on the other side of graduation, it can feel like the good old days were in college.

“Definitely enjoy it and soak up everything that you can learn, even if it’s not information in your field of study,” White said.

“Take any kind of practical advice from someone who has been in your shoes, because the more you know, the better, more well-rounded person you will be. That’s my solid advice!”

For me, graduation will be an accomplishment to be proud of. I will not miss homework and deadlines, but I will surely miss the people that I have become connected with and the friendships that I have made. Cameron is part of my history.

The only question is, what’s next?

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