Tonawanda News

Columns

May 17, 2014

DUVALL: What a college grad doesn't know

Tonawanda News — College students across Western New York walked across a stage this weekend and were handed a blank sheet of paper. (Your real diploma comes in the mail a few weeks later, if I recall.) It's a fitting metaphor.

Yes, your life is a blank canvas, college grad. But you probably didn't need English 101 to see that obvious comparison. 

It's not blank, your diploma. It's empty. As in, it's up to you now to make it worth something.

There are a few things I wish someone had told me when I graduated. The first is, yes, those loans are real and you will have to pay them back. And it sucks. For a long time.

I'd also have appreciated someone telling me how little I would use the vast majority of my classroom education. I learned lots of stuff I'm glad I know — and that has almost no practical application in my working life.

What I didn't know then, which I've learned since, is the real lessons you hopefully learned during your time in college are about things like work ethic, commitment, working cooperatively with others, time management, critical thinking and how to function on very little sleep or while hung over.

OK, maybe the last one is more apropos to me because I'm a journalist. Whatever. It's a useful life skill for others as well, I'm sure. 

Seriously, though, your GPA means nothing to people once you take that last walk. I can't honestly tell you the last time I bothered to look at what a candidate for a job here clocked in at. I don't remember my college GPA or my SAT score. I've never once been asked. I was a reasonably good student who excelled in the subjects I liked and made do with the ones I didn't. That's about all I remember of my actual academic record.

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