This is the first back-to-school season in my life that I have not spent gearing up to go back to school. As I transition to being full-time working adult, the first chill in the summer air this year didn’t inspire the excitement it usually does. Suddenly, I’m not in a structured learning environment, I’m not within walking distance of my best friends, and there are no more mid-afternoon nap opportunities. I actually shed a couple of tears because I missed college that much. (I think most recent grads have this moment . . . even if we’re not willing to admit it.)
What I’ve realized though, is that Michigan gave me everything I need. As a consultant, no two days ever look the same, but I’ve been able to utilize the values that a liberal arts education instilled in me every day. I was a biology major, and while I might not need to identify fruit fly mating behavior on a daily basis, what this—and so many other classes—taught me is how to move beyond knowing to learning. The former is simply the act of possessing information, whereas the latter is the actual process of taking in and retaining information. My time at Michigan taught me how to truly learn, and this lesson has been a comfort to me during this time of change.
To those of you young alumni reading this, who are struggling with the transition from college to the world, know this: leaving school doesn’t mean we have to stop learning. Receiving a diploma from U-M doesn’t mean we’re done, it simply means that we now have the tools to do even more. We’ve practiced thinking creatively and critically, communicating effectively, and discovering truths, and it’s now time to utilize those skills. Take classes through your company, get certifications, read books, write blog posts, listen to podcasts, get involved in whatever post-graduate activities you’re doing to make sure you continue your personal education.
While it may seem scary to graduate, I’ve realized that the end of college doesn’t mean I’m done learning. We’re so lucky to be alumni of the greatest university in the world, and to have the opportunity to go out and be the Leaders & Best.