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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Leaving doesn’t mean we’ll lose this community

Once an Ag, always an Ag

As spring quarter comes to a close, thousands of UC Davis students, including most members of the Editorial Board, are gearing up to graduate next week. Completing an undergraduate education might mean many different things to the soon-to-be graduates, but regardless of what this experience holds for you, it is undeniable that receiving your bachelor’s from UC Davis is a big deal.

With a competitive job market and what seem like impossible-to-reach standards, this feat may not seem so great to some; it is said that a college degree is becoming the new high school diploma, a comparison that severely minimizes this achievement. But focusing on how much a college education bolsters a resume also ignores that this accomplishment is so much more than where it can take you next.

Over the past few years, UC Davis has shaped its students in life-changing ways. The courses we’ve taken have piqued our interest and motivated us to change our majors (or taught us to steer clear of certain departments); the clubs and organizations we’ve joined have inspired passions and given us fulfillment outside of the classroom; and the people we’ve met have gotten us through the toughest points of college and become lifelong friends. Most of all, the past few years have given us the gift of a strong, resilient community. 

Despite the invaluable impact Davis has had on us, it’s hard to focus on our time here as we prepare to leave. Once graduated, and even in the months leading up to it, most of us are expected to look forward and plan for the future, not look back on the experiences that have led us here. 

In a culture that glorifies hyperproductivity and equates success with how much money you make, young people, especially recent grads, are left with the narrow-minded belief that leaving college requires us to immediately move on to work and enter “the real world,” where we should climb ladders and keep our sights set on salaries. This prevalent expectation may well be a path for some, but it also restricts the many young adults who have other goals in mind, or at least punishes them for straying from the path society teaches us to choose. 

And even if that is the path you choose, it doesn’t need to be the first one you take. Taking time to reflect on the past few years, traveling to a new place, pursuing interests you never had time for throughout 16 years of education or simply just existing are all valid — and maybe even necessary — to do after graduation. Especially at a highly-ranked institution like UC Davis, and during a pandemic no less, college can be a busy, draining experience. What most people probably need afterwards is to take a breath, not take on a 40-hour workweek.

That is not all to say that buying a one-way ticket across the globe is the only way to relax post grad; as great as it’d be if money could be ignored in this equation, that is not a realistic option for most people. But cherishing all that your college education has given you — beyond a fancy piece of paper — instead of solely focusing on the rest of your life is something that can be done no matter where you are or what you’re doing. 

With all the life we have ahead of us, it can feel impossible to take in the last few days we have as college kids, but that’s exactly what we should be doing: being present in this community while it’s still within arm’s reach. To anyone graduating, the Editorial Board strongly encourages you to take the long route, to stick around on campus a little longer and try as hard as you can to focus only on what’s happening right in front of you, because it won’t be there for much longer. 

But even as we continue on to the next stage of our lives, the community we’ve built here isn’t going to just disappear. Graduating doesn’t mean that we need to leave all this behind, it means we get to take it all with us. We wouldn’t be walking away from any other experience as the people we are now; how lucky we are to carry what we’ve learned and who we’ve become with us for the rest of our lives. 

No matter how big or small receiving this degree feels for you, the Editorial Board hopes that all graduates will be walking across the stage (even if metaphorically) filled with pride and the assurance that UC Davis will be a part of us all forever. As you move on to whatever comes next, don’t forget: Go Ags (and go The Aggie).

Written by: The Editorial Board

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