The Cavalier Daily
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I’ll Graduate When I’m 80

We all want to graduate eventually… right?

Instead of striding down the Lawn in a white summer dress I’ll only wear once, I’d like to probe the grass with my cane and sweep a cape made entirely of graduation cords around my shoulders. This isn’t because I can’t graduate on time — with the minimum amount of credits needed each semester, I’d have passed that threshold decades ago. This is because I’d like to stay at the University for as long as possible — to the point when University President Jim Ryan has to personally escort me off Grounds with my diploma in hand. 

In college, the benefits are endless! Who would want to leave it all behind? Grounds has several dining halls, not to mention cafes in strange nooks that you’re lucky to find by your second year. With a streamlined meal plan, you have access to almost constant food, unless you’re not a fan of late night chicken tenders. In addition, the dining halls offer a rotation of food to make sure you hit all your food groups. It’s so much easier than trying to not only buy vegetables in season, but also figure out how to cook them to taste good. If the nutrition doesn’t convince you, where else will you get a fluffy waffle with the Rotunda stamped in the center? 

Another facet of college life I couldn’t give up is living in dorms. They are the hubs of engagement and community. With constant neighbors, I'd certainly never be lonely. From a more practical standpoint, the anxieties of home ownership are completely out of my control. In a dorm, I don’t have to keep track of five different bills, all with different due dates. And I never need to worry about unexplainable damages or wear and tear — so long as I trust the cryptic maintenance portal. 

One of the lesser recognized perks of student life is the unavoidable exercise. If I stay enrolled in college, I won’t lose cardio strength and muscle tone. The scooters are a mystery to me and I refuse to take the buses because they’re a timing nightmare. I want to get to class with enough time to get a seat, not to sit there twiddling my thumbs and certainly not late. So, I walk. And there’s no use in having a car for emergencies because every parking spot within 1,000 feet of academic buildings is permitted upon threat of towing. Class is stressful enough without worrying if my car has been confiscated. 

The most compelling reason for staying in college is that it’s a greased path. That is to say the decisions and structures are in place to slide you right through. Take classes to accumulate credits, get some grades to make a number that you’ll eventually show off to someone, and repeat until graduation. Do it with your eyes closed, but don’t worry because your advisor will be taking note of your every move. And what if you just kept taking classes? At this point I’ve been taking tests for almost 16 years so it must be something I’m decent at, so why not continue my straightforward success? More A’s equals more success, right?

As a rising fourth year, it has become uncomfortably obvious that the cycle of tests and grades that felt so heavily weighted will in fact not provide any direction for the future. After graduation, the training wheels come off, the bowling lane bumpers come down, and the grease is gone. The University used it all up in my first and second years. Since most of my life has been dictated by my academic path, it’s the one thing I know.

Plus, I’ll be able to say I graduated as a 62nd year student. Wouldn’t that be a great fun fact for a party? 

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