I am starting my senior year of college,and everyone around me is saying that the hard part is over. They're all liars.
I am 20 years old,and I must admit that I am scared. My childhood fears have been resolved. I am no longer afraid of the dark or of meeting new people or of not doing well on the SATs. Now I am afraid of my future.
I think the hard part is just beginning. College wasn't hard. More than 12 years of classroom training prepared me for it. And now as I make plans to finish college,my responsibilities will change. I will enter the work world,a place that isn't always kind to recent grads.
For starters,I am unsure of exactly what I want to do. Next spring I will graduate from Hampton University with a degree in print journalism. I know I want to be a reporter.
But I also know that I want to be a sports broadcaster,an entrepreneur and maybe even a teacher. I thought I would be more decisive by the end of college. I spent four years and thousands of dollars getting a degree. And still,I ask myself,“What do I want to be when I grow up?”
When I was younger it was OK for me to change my mind on a regular basis,but those days are over. I need a game plan.
During the past three years in college,the one question I learned not to ask seniors was what they were doing after graduation. The looks on their faces were those of sadness,fear and disappointment. At the time,I thought seniors who didn't know what they would do next had wasted their time and money. But now,I find myself in their shoes.
I have talked to recent college graduates,however,and their responses about the future aren't the same as mine.
“It's exciting not knowing where you will be because the possibilities are endless,” said Titus Ledbetter III,a 2005 graduate of Hampton University from Germantown,Md.,who is looking for a job. “I think it's a fun time.”
I don't know about anyone else,but I don't think its fun going on interview after interview. It's no fun having a degree in a particular field and struggling to find a related job.
“I know I will find something to do. I know people are hiring,and I know I will find the right fit when appropriate,” said Ansley Haman,a graduate of the University of Tennessee from Spring City,Tenn.,and my fellow intern in Washington this summer. Ansley will attend graduate school in January but in the meantime will temp. “I have a degree. I can find a job that will pay enough to pay the bills.”
Not everyone is as optimistic as Titus and Ansley.
A recent Gallup poll found the economy and jobs are the second most important problem facing the country. The war in Iraq was first.
Another Gallup poll found that 35 percent of adults believe economic conditions are getting better,and 53 percent believe economic conditions are getting worse. The poll also found that 32 percent think economic conditions are excellent or good,44 percent think they are fair and 23 percent think conditions are poor.
If more than half of the people polled last month think economic conditions are getting worse,and 23 percent think the conditions are poor,then I have every right to be afraid of the future.
The fear of not knowing what my future will hold is stressful,especially when people are saying that there is joy in the unknown. I don't think there is any joy in not knowing.
I thought I was going to college to find all the answers,but I am leaving with more questions than I started with. By this time next year,I hope I will become one of the liars.