No More First Day: The Struggle Of Being Done With School For Good

by Julia Baker

I can’t remember one September in my entire life when I wasn’t preparing to go back to school. No matter if it was elementary school or college, fall always meant the same thing: It was time to trade in my swimsuit and flip-flops for textbooks and notepads.

It was time for another year of advancing my education.

Now, as a 22-year-old, September feels weird. I see the back-to-school commercials; I hear kids getting off the bus outside my house, and I still somehow receive the “Welcome Back!” email from my college, despite having graduated from there in the spring.

Instead of a month of excitement, September is officially the month of nostalgia.

I see my younger friends tweeting about how they dread another year in the classroom, and I can’t help but be jealous of them. Although, yes, I also complained about my 9 am history class and how I was just “so ready to graduate,” it’s weird to think about now that I've graduated from college.

I will never again take a pointless general education requirement, but I will also never again take a class in which I’m inspired to learn something completely new.

Does this mean my intellect has peaked? I mean, God knows I’ll only hold on to this Philosophy 101 knowledge for so long. Will I slowly forget the information my brain has accumulated over the past four years?

Being a student, I always felt productive. Getting an education always seemed honorable, and that feeling of doing well in six different classes was more than satisfying. Now, I work a job where probably only 10 percent of the knowledge I gained in college is even utilized.

How do I continue to educate myself when there is currently no window of opportunity?

According to The Huffington Post, perhaps, college was not such an intellectually stimulating time.

According to Writer Eric Gorski, out of the research of more than 2,300 undergraduates, “45 percent of students show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years.”

The article goes on to say,

“Overall, the picture doesn't brighten much over four years. After four years, 36 percent of students did not demonstrate significant improvement, compared to 45 percent after two.”

This information may not exactly be comforting, but it does put things into perspective. I felt my most progressive years intellectually were in college, but perhaps I was wrong.

While going to school for the past 18 years, free time barely existed.

Class took up the majority of my days, and while I wasn’t in class, I was usually at home preparing for the next class. I had very little time to experience much else.

Perhaps, that is the great thing of being the dreaded age of 22. I actually have time for experiences and making memories. I can learn life lessons by traveling, networking or even by giving back to the community.

I agree that courses such as ancient literature and statistics made me a well-rounded student, but how much will I remember from those classes?

What I will always remember is what it felt like helping a complete stranger or seeing a different country for the first time.

Now, as a college graduate and a young professional woman, all new beginnings feel like September. As I prepare to experience something new, it feels like the first day of school all over again. There are butterflies in my stomach, and I have a racing heartbeat.

You have no idea what’s in store this time, but you just know you’re ready to take it on.

So, for all you 20-somethings out there who are bummed about not heading back to campus this year, don’t let the nostalgia get the best of you.

You have plenty more “first days” ahead, some of which are about to teach you more than you ever thought you would learn.