What Happens After College

It’s the question every college senior hates: So, what are you doing when you graduate?

The honest truth of the matter is, most of us have no idea. At all. So we stammer something about job applications we’ve sent out, interviews we’ve had, and where we hope to end up.

Some of us will end up at at Chick Fil A, or Starbucks, or… GET A JOB IN OUR FIELD OF STUDY!!!!!

Some of us will get married.

Some of us will continue our education.

I really hated the “after graduation” questions for a while. But I am hoping to pursue grad school next fall. I am hoping to find a place as a GA. I have applied, and now I’m waiting. But when people ask me what I’m doing next year, at least I have a respectable response.

The thing is, I thought that I would hate the question less when I had a response. I actually hate it more. The reactions I’ve been getting have been more frustrating than the original question. Because the reactions have primarily been negative.

I know that when people ask the question, they’re curious, concerned for my well-being, desirous of knowing how to pray for me, etc. And I know that when they react, it’s out of…mostly concern. I appreciate that. But I also think I am about to speak the truth for a lot of college seniors.

Whatever the senior’s response to the question and whatever the well-wisher’s reaction to the response, the response is probably not what anyone expected.

To put it more simply: I have given my response. You have reacted negatively in some way. You are surprised. So am I. This isn’t the way I thought that things would go. This wasn’t in the plan. I may or may not be dealing with my attitude in this area. Your negative response is not helping.

So I’m going to be specific now.

People who learn about my grad school aspirations have responded to me with one of two reactions. If they know me well, they ask, “What about your boyfriend?” If they’re more of an acquaintance, they ask (with a shocked facial expression), “So, there’s no man in the picture?”

I want to communicate something very clearly here. Grad school does not have to mean the absence of a romantic relationship. The presence of a romantic relationship does not have to mean the absence of grad school. These two things actually have nothing to do with each other.

I went to college for a B.A., not an M.R.S.

I will be pursuing an M.A., not an M.R.S. That’s not what this is about. That has never been what any of this has been about.

In May, I will be graduating without a glittery rock on my left hand. But that doesn’t mean that I, or my boyfriend, or anyone else failed along the way. It’s called God’s timing. If you’re looking at it as some kind of failure, you can take it up with Him.

I’m not bitter. I’m not disappointed. Maybe a little bit jealous, because my wedding board on Pinterest is seriously out of control, but hey, I’m human, and it’s only natural for a girl to dream.

But the diamond, the gown, the wedding… that’s not all there is.

There’s so much to learn about! There’s so much to see! And I don’t feel compelled to rush into marriage, because I’m young, and (Lord-willing) I’ve got nothing but time!

A lot of my friends WILL be getting married this summer and fall. Some of my friends are already married. A few are even expecting babies! And I’m beyond happy for them! That was God’s plan and timing for them, and I’m happy to see them happy.

But I don’t feel ready for all of that. Marriage takes a lot of commitment, love, and hard work. And that’s not what God has for me yet. So I am going to grad school (again, Lord-willing).

Life starts the day you’re born, not the day you get married. I’ve lived for the last 20 years without marriage. I think I can make it another 2 or 3 years.

I won’t even go into my position on working women and using the degree you worked for. I’ll save that for another post.

But if you’re reading this, and you’re an older adult with college-age acquaintances, I have some suggestions for you. And I’m humbly begging you to implement these.

Do not ask them why they aren’t getting married if they are not.

Do not ask them why they aren’t going to grad school if they’re not.

Do pray for them.

Do tell them that you are praying for them.

If you are disappointed in their decisions, do your best to hide it.

I guarantee that the student you’re talking to has thought long and hard about his or her future. I guarantee that they’ve agonized over their decisions, praying long and hard. Many of them are underwhelmed by what’s going on in their lives, so they are already trying to work through their disappointment. Help them find the positives, if you can.

I’m not trying to be disrespectful or ungrateful to my older friends. I know that you are trying to help. And I appreciate all of you who have prayed and continue to pray for me as I finish my undergraduate career. I trust that you will pray with me as I seek to follow God’s leading in my future.

Here’s to the class of 2016! Let’s finish strong, guys!


One thought on “What Happens After College

  1. Bravo, Mikayla! You nailed it!

    Your most precious possession right now is time. And youth. Get your education now, if God leads you that way. There is always more time for romance, marriage, and family…..and they are much easier to pursue wholeheartedly when one is not distracted by the very real demands of education. Advanced education also brings with it experiences that will broaden your horizons and bring maturity….two of the best gifts to bring to a marriage later, if God wills.

    Use your time. There is never enough of it, but for many people there’s much waste of it. Let the awareness of time push and challenge you right now.

    (A study of Alexander Hamilton at this juncture is enlightening too.)

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