Column: College Prepares Graduates to Tackle Life’s Unexpecteds

Hundreds of thousands of college students will be graduating this month and whether they are ready or not, many aspects of life are about to become reality. From marriages to mortgages, graduates are going to have to take on a variety of challenges they may feel unprepared for.

They must take heart, though. While their completed courses may not reflect this component of their education, the past few years have been a training ground for handling unexpected situations.

College graduates are prepared to thrive in situations they are unprepared for.

Few students could have been prepared for their freshman year roommate. Food was stolen, the room smelled like toxic waste and they had zero common interests with the strangers they lived with for a year. Yet they survived and learned a great deal about patience.

And who could blame students for not knowing how to properly flirt when they first got to college? That is a skill that is forged in the fires of embarrassment. Yet they survived, and some will miraculously get married soon.

No matter how planners and apps were used, every student also showed up to at least one class unaware of an assignment due or test taking place that day. The sinking feeling that takes place in one’s stomach in those moments is comparable only to the initial drop on a rollercoaster. Yet they survived, even if their GPA hardly did.

Then, of course, there is the college students’ bodies to consider. No human body is ready to transition from home-cooked food and reasonable amounts of rest to a diet of ramen and a sleep schedule below the legal minimum. They survived but should definitely transition back to healthier habits.

Financially, many students were surprised by how stressful bills, loans and bottomed out bank accounts can be. Compromises had to be made, as there was enough money to either pay extra for guacamole at Chipotle or buy toilet paper that is not sandpaper. Yet they survived and learned what their priorities are.

Looking back, there was much students had to learn through sink-or-swim scenarios at college. But the skills and confidence that these instances developed may be one of the most valuable aspects of the college experience.

Life after graduation will bring new challenges, and it is practically impossible to be ready for everything life can bring. For that reason, the ability to adapt and respond despite lack of proper preparation will help graduates sustain sanity and thrive in their work environments.

All of that does not mean failure will never happen. Sometimes unexpected circumstances will inevitably result in less than ideal results. It will be at times like these that knowing how to mess up and get up will benefit these recent college graduates.

Yes, the upcoming months will be filled with change and many college graduates may feel unprepared for many of these challenges. However, it was not too long ago they were graduating from high school, unprepared for the hardships of college.

Yet they survived.

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