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The cold, harsh real world

Jason Coleman | Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Staring down the end of my college career can feel a little like staring down the barrel of a gun. In the years leading into my matriculation at this university, I heard dozens of relatives and friends older and wiser than I describe college as the best four years of their lives. The implication being, of course, that life only goes downhill from here. I’ve had all the fun I can have, drank all the beer I can drink and made all the friends I can make. That’s where the gun thing comes in. It’s the real world flying at me just faster than the speed of sound, and ending life as I know it. That is indubitably a cause for concern.

But as graduation gets closer every day, I’ve been considering what college has meant, and how a unique and assuredly peculiar place like Notre Dame can not only eliminate the notion that this is the best four years, but actually enables the next forty to be even better.

College, to begin, has certainly made me dumber. While it would be easy to attest this to the late nights, little sleep, pitchers of Finny’s long island ice teas and half a semester of “Strategic Management,” it just wouldn’t be accurate. Instead, I’ve realized that the talented people I’ve befriended have shown me more about what I don’t know, and likely will never know than I possibly imagined as a freshman four years ago. I’m not even sure that this is a bad thing. On second thought, I probably only feel dumber, given the incredible body of knowledge I’ve been exposed to both inside and outside of the classroom. This new found amazement only makes setting forth into the brave new world an adventure.

I also feel like I’ve already learned a thing or two about the real world. First, McDonalds coupons are good as gold. Three dollars quarter pounder meals? Cha ching. Second, accountants, doctors and lawyers must like to party. After all, a lot of my graduating classmates are entering into those fields and they certainly like to party. This gives me great hope for the future that I won’t be pinned down to an existence full of suited professionals and insipid dinner parties. Third, people in the real world are actually people, with feelings. This is something I’ve only discovered as older friends have graduated, and still managed to be fun. Being “college” may only be a state of mind.

Finally, I’ve been considering what an eclectic group of friends and acquaintances I have had the fortune of making in four years here. If I’ve learned one thing, it is to never underestimate a Notre Dame student. Whether it’s the kid that mopes around class, and happens to be a concert pianist in his spare time, or the party animal that helps organize service events in her free time, its impossible to judge someone at first sight. If I can meet as equally impressive people out in the real world, I can’t help but be excited about future prospects.

None of this is to say I wouldn’t enjoy another year or two, but considering all of these together gives me great hope for the next step forward. In the end, college may be the best four years of my life, but they certainly won’t be for lack of competition.

As my career as an Observer columnist winds down, I can’t help but thank everybody that has helped get me this far. First I’d like to thank my two three-year roommates, Brad and Brian, my three other two-year roommates, Dan, Patrick and Timmy, my friends in the 130 St. Louis crowd, the Latin Compound, Tom Collins, Mitch and Andrew. They have always helped me out with ideas and controversy. Secondly, I’d like to thank my friends at Lafayette (Keep the Ride Alive), my friends and coworkers at North Dinning Hall and the other Observer columnists, copy editors and Viewpoint editors. I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank my equally stunning and clever girlfriend, Lauren, for proofreading most of my columns. I also need to thank my mom and dad, as well as my grandma Jean and grandpa John for supporting me in all of my various endeavors over the past 22 years. And lastly, I’d like to thank you, all of the readers who have managed to stomach at least one of my columns over the past two years.

 

Jason Coleman is a senior accounting major. He can be contacted at coleman.70@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not
necessarily those of The Observer.