What now? Concerns of a senior student

There is a growing anxiety amongst seniors regarding where we go from here. In today’s world, a
degree is what sets you aside from the competition when it comes to getting a job.

The problem is that we don’t yet know what we want to do with the rest of our lives. For four years,
we have been attending college. When it all started, I think it is safe to say that we all had a picture in
our heads of what we wanted after graduation. Over time though, that picture has become a Picasso of
thoughts and desires.

As a freshman at Pellissippi State, I was certain that I wanted work in public relations. Maybe I would
get a job at Ackerman or join a marketing or business consulting firm. Now, I find myself saying “Now
what?” as graduation day grows closer.

In addition to this dilemma, life seems to be piling more and more responsibility and expectations
onto our generation. Where do we want to go? What do we want to do? And of course, how do we find
answers to these questions?

Christi Montgomery, another senior here at here at Maryville College, has the same worries:

“I want to work in public health,” Montgomery said. “I have been volunteering at a local health clinic
now for over 2 years. I would like to say that getting hired on there is a sure thing. The goal for me is to
become a LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker). There is only one position for that job available at the
clinic, so I have my fingers crossed. It is a huge “if” though. At my age, this is the last attempt at college.
It is also a last go at a real career. I will be 42-years old this year and it’s a scary thought to think that
positions in my field of study will not be available when I graduate.”

In the movie “Valentine’s Day,” Anne Hathaway plays a girl who moonlights as a phone sex operator.
When the man she is dating finds out about it and she has to come clean. She says: “I am $80,000
dollars in debt due to student loans and I have bills to pay at the same time. I am just trying to make it.
So if you know of any great paying jobs for poetry majors, I am all ears.”

Although this is just a film, the predicament is all too real in the minds of most students. Studies show
that many graduates don’t land jobs in their field of study. So, what are we to do with that degree that
we worked so hard for if that lifelong dream falls through?

I went to talk to Dr. Susan Schneibel, chair of the Languages and Literature Division, about how I was
feeling about graduation. “It is far from uncommon to feel that way about your future,” Schneibel said.
“Many of my own students have gone on to do what they set out to do in the first place. They have since
found other interests and positions that suit them better or that they find more interesting than their
original plan. There are many things one can do with a degree.”

So, to the seniors that feel this confusion, I offer this nugget of wisdom. Calm down, take a deep
breath and let the degree you worked so hard for do its job. Remember that you came here to
accomplish a goal and now that goal is about to be reached.

Set a new goal with each passing day and look to the future for inspiration instead of frustration. You
are a Scot, and you will not be defeated by pressure.

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