With the increasing cost of education, and the devaluation of the average bachelor’s degree, it is no surprise that students often want to minimize the overall monetary investment they make in their undergraduate education. There are scholarships and grants to help out with the obscene cost, but another method of decreasing debt is to graduate early. I personally will be graduating in three years with an English degree and a minor in Cultural Anthropology, and will be off to see the world (or y’know, become a waitress).
Graduating early was something that I grappled with, because as much as I want to assist my parents in paying for my education and then wander off into the wild, I also wondered how this would impact my “college experience” here at the University of California, Santa Barbara. As a second-year junior on track for graduation at the end of 2014, how much am I really losing by shaving off that last year of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara?
There is definitely that insecurity about the economy and stress to find jobs upon graduation, so there’s a valid reason to put off the real world as long as possible and stay in school. These are the last few years I’ll have before the real world slaps me in the face and I can never go back to “the good old days” of youthful dreaming and (relative) innocence. I feel like everyone here in Isla Vista is naive, and knows and revels in it.
I will look back upon these great years of spending my days in classes and clubs on campus, studying on the beach, hanging out with a million different types of people all the time, having a job, going downtown and seeing all the events that take place on campus (remember when Oprah came? Yeah, me neither). The highlight of my college experience so far was seeing Sarah Kay, my favorite slam poet, perform in and then moderate a poetry slam last year. I then got to meet her and she signed my book. It’s been a year and I won’t stop telling people about it, because it was such an amazing experience. It’s one that I probably wouldn’t have had had I not been in an environment that hosts events like that often.
College offers us so many opportunities to join different clubs and network with people like us, to explore different realms of knowledge, and to spend our days learning about everything. My dream is to basically be James Franco (but everyone knows I am far more attractive) and jump from college to college in the pursuit of knowledge. College is that safety net so that you can take risks, but at the same time it’s a lot more like the real world than high school ever was. It is a controlled risk, and for that reason, I am both wildly uncomfortable and overly at ease with everything I do here.
Graduating early is to leave this little bubble of paradise behind that much earlier. Yeah, I’ll be younger when I finally graduate from grad school, but is it really worth it? I go back and forth about it constantly. On one hand, I’m pretty scared of the real world, and when I think about it, all I want to do is curl up into a little ball under every blanket I own and never leave my room again. On the other hand, I can’t wait to be living on my own and hopefully, every day of my life will be straight out of an episode of “Friends” (one can dream). Being one year closer to making that dream a reality is exhilarating and nerve-wracking at the same time.
So I’m going to take full advantage of my remaining year and one quarter here. I want my stay in paradise to be the best memories I will ever make, learning how to skateboard in semi-vacant parking lots, creating a blanket forts in the study lounge of my residence hall, and reading every book ever written because I can and I want to. Graduating early provides for a completely different, faster paced, college experience. Though it may not be the quintessential one, it’s not necessarily going to be detrimental to my happiness and memories of life in Isla Vista.
Photo Courtesy of Ann Arbor District Library