The Collegian
Friday, June 09, 2023

Avoiding the after-college question

With Parents Weekend quickly approaching I've got two things on my mind. One of which may or may not include hiring Merry Maids to come and salvage what's left of my apartment. "Mom, I swear it came this dirty!"

On a more serious note, I can't help but dread one question I expect to hear every parent ask to those of us who are getting ready to put down our solo cups and pick up our diplomas: "So, what are you planning on doing after college?"

Well for starters, I plan on hiring a good shrink way in advance so when I have my first major mental breakdown it'll be one less thing for me to worry about.

To say that the idea of entering the work force is daunting is an understatement.

I am absolutely dreading the process of applying for jobs. It seems like just yesterday I was applying to college and now, here I am, already more than a month into my final year at the University of Richmond, starting to plan out (more or less) the rest of my after-college life.

There are just so many factors to consider. Do you move to the Big Apple like you've always dreamed? Or no, wait, you hear San Francisco's really chill. But will you want super chill at such a young age?

Maybe you need a fast-paced lifestyle? But why are you even considering lifestyle choices when you haven't even decided on your career? Do you even want a career just yet? Maybe you'll just go to graduate school.

That's about the time when you have a flashback to your dad saying, "After this last payment, kiddo, you're on your own." After a brief moment of wondering if he ever really loved you at all, you realize a) yes, he does and b) that you don't even want to go to grad school. You want to do something you love, something that makes you truly happy. That's when you wonder: "What is it that I truly love?"

If you answered that question with a) I love lodges b) I love D-Hall c) I love having an apartment that is made of papier-mache or d) all of the above, consider staying an extra year, because baby, you're not ready to graduate.

What I want to know is: Why is it so wrong to not know what we're going to do with the rest of our lives? I'm 21 years old for God's sake, not 49 (no offense Mom). I (and when I say I, I actually mean we. We, seniors of this university) should be off exploring the world and doing all the things we can't do when we're older and married (if we so choose) with kids (if we so choose).

All I know is that when I look back on my life, the last thing I want to be thinking is "I should have gone back to Italy." Because I highly doubt I'll look back and think, "Boy, I sure am glad I took that nine-to-five cubicle job as a secretary at Smith Smith & Gingerballs. Their dental plan was INsane!"

Honestly, I wonder how many adults can say they absolutely love what they do? I often can't figure out why so many of us settle for less than what we love. Especially since we've been trained to excel at absolutely anything and everything.

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We've been given so many tools at Richmond. And I truly believe we have the liberal arts to thank for that. We've learned how to reason and argue, analyze and explain, teach and be taught. So now, all that's left to be done is to apply those things by actually living.

Don't get me wrong, I get it. As the saying goes, "It's easier said than done." I recognize the reality of a need to make money in order to live and eat, etc. But you've gotta ask yourself, what's the point of living if you're only going through the motions?

I remember window-shopping on my lunch break a few summers ago in Nantucket and seeing a shirt on display in Island Company that made me laugh. It said, "Quit your job. Buy a ticket. Get a tan. Fall in love. Never return."

I laughed because, at the time, I thought it was ridiculously stupid. Now, with the prospects of the "real world" at my UFA door, I'm just not so sure it's that stupid after all.

Contact staff writer Liz Monahan at

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