With graduation not far on the horizon, upperclassmen are becoming increasingly worried about life after Dartmouth. While Career Services is available with invaluable advice to help relieve our uncertainties, many students are still left unsure of their future ambitions.
Uncertainty about the future is especially apparent during Winter term, a critical time for students considering joining the corporate world after college. This year, a record high of 615 students hoping to gain a summer internship at a prestigious company, followed by a job offer participated in “resume-drop” (“Winter resume drop numbers rise,” Jan 14).
Others who do not see the corporate world in their immediate future have begun to feverishly make plans for graduate school, medical school or law school right after graduation, eager to finish up their education and start their career.
I believe that Career Services and Dartmouth academic advisors should only encourage these common post-graduate plans with reservation. That is, instead of trying to alleviate uncertainty and help students reach a concrete decision, the College should help students not only accept but also embrace uncertainty.
Although attending graduate school or starting a long-term job right after graduation has its benefits, I feel it limits our exploration at a crucial time in our lives. Because these engagements will consume the next several years of our lives, they are large commitments that should not be pursued without careful consideration. Unfortunately, I feel as though many people follow these paths too readily every year without understanding the consequences of their decisions.
Our four years at Dartmouth are marketed as a time to try new things, travel abroad and experience personal growth, but these years are not the entirety of our youth. We should use our post-graduate years to further our disparate interests and creative but impractical ideas for as long as we can.
It’s true that our liberal arts education at Dartmouth has given us time to dabble in many fields, from math to literature to language to art. While students are required to concentrate in a single major in order to graduate, a good college will inspire intellectual curiosity in many areas and encourage investigation of any and all subjects no matter how impractical they may be. After completing a college degree, a student should then use the future to experience these subjects outside of the classroom, without making big commitments to any discipline until they are sure what they want to pursue.
The problem with the common post-grad options is that many of them are relatively inflexible once you join a certain job sector or pursue an advanced degree, it becomes more difficult to change your specialization. While a specific discipline may have interested you at Dartmouth, college courses do not necessarily give you enough information to make a qualified decision about which profession suits you best. In addition, while many students are currently drawn to the huge paychecks advertised by certain corporate firms, I can’t help but wonder if everyone will stay enthusiastic about a career chosen solely for monetary reasons.
While there is certainly a stigma against deviating from this tradition, I don’t think that avoiding a typical post-graduate plan is as terrible as people make it out to be. Students can pursue a doctorate degree or join Wall Street when they are 25 years old they shouldn’t feel compelled to start the August after graduation. On the other hand, it becomes less practical to be a starving artist or that guy playing guitar in the train station once you reach a certain age. While many of us have been trained from an early age to strive for success, it is incredibly important to take time to actively explore the world outside of Hanover before we center our lives around a discipline or career.
Once the foundation of a traditional education at Dartmouth is built, students should feel more comfortable to create their own educations and lives.