The Liberal Art of Schmoozing – Welcome to the Real World

The idea of welcoming, or even merely acknowledging, the reality that the “best four years of our lives” will soon vanish depresses the hell out of me. This past weekend I had the pleasure of schmoozing (sprinkled with the occasional scrap of career advice) with some great alumni, the only living, breathing proof that life doesn’t cease to exist after receiving our diploma. Quite frankly, the only tangible piece of advice I took away from the “Real World” seminar is that we might actually have to start dating and in our first year on the job we are most susceptible to office pranks.

Fourteen weeks from now we will march down the hill with our torches, much like we did on our way to the Jug four seemingly short years ago. However, this time there will be no Cruiser to bring us back up, just a pat on the back and a “welcome to the real world.” And if the “Real World” attempts to prepare us for life after college, I can only infer that the snow globe we call Colgate must somehow resemble the “unreal world.” I like to call it Camp Colgate.

As a second semester senior, I am as unmotivated as ever. The idea of spending any morsel of the last few weeks in the library silently staring at a computer doesn’t exactly appeal to me. But neither does graduating, and those two aspirations are not mutually exclusive. My worst fear is looking back on my four years at Colgate and wondering what experiences I missed locked away in the library all those late nights. Let’s not forget that the point of college is to grow and mature, and this applies academically as well as socially. Oftentimes in our four years here we get caught up in the idea that the point of college is to graduate with a 4.0. What is important is to make yourself the center of your college experience. If you’re not happy with your experience here, you’re doing something wrong.

My father once told me “youth is wasted on the young.” When I complain to him about the workload at Colgate he simply responds with a contrived smirk as if to indicate a blissful ignorance he finds amusing. Am I just as credulous to believe that Santa really eats those cookies and milk left out at Christmas? Or is it because we can only comprehend the practical joke that is youth when it’s too late?

It’s not until you spend your mid-20s logging 80 hour weeks that you realize that even finals week isn’t so bad. I know the dreaded sound of hearing the librarians come over the loudspeaker to kick you out of the library at 2 a. m., but I’ve heard the horror stories from friends who have graduated: there are no curfews in the real world. While filling our ears with worldly wisdom during “Finance: Beyond Wall Street,” an ex-investment banking analyst praised the virtues of his profession, announcing he had worked a 148 hour work week. Which, according to my calculations, leaves just under 3.5 hours of sleep a night…and that is if he could teleport from his desk to his bed. Delightful!

College is the real world with training wheels. Remember when you were learning to ride a bike, how badly you wanted to get those training wheels off? It’s not until after our first crash that we remember how much fun and how easy it was to ride around with the extra help. I’m not suggesting we spend the rest of our lives riding around with training wheels, only that we treasure their support while we have them and not be too eager to take them off. Until we graduate we live an angelic life, devoid of any comprehension of the real world.

When we leave the hallowed halls of Colgate, we too shed that youthful bliss we have so na’vely been accustomed to for 22 years. No longer does our week consist of 10 hours of class, five nights of drinking and the occasional trip to the library. Never again is our biggest anxiety accidentally throwing a red sock in with a load of whites.

In our final hour, we can only hope the spirit of youth will stick with us forever. Yet while we are here, we seem to forget, maybe fail to comprehend, that we are still in touch with that innocence. As students, we still get to laugh about our work. We should be learning and growing academically, challenging ourselves in the pursuit of knowledge. But we shouldn’t let that get in the way of life. Life, after all, is lived outside of a classroom, off of a college campus.