College Graduate Support

This article inspired by a recent initiative from DePauw University. Shared with me by a Ball State English Professor and amazing literary citizen.

So, a few days ago I went looking for something on the #bsuenglish blog. Back in October they were providing this really nifty page on the blog where every Monday they added a new prompt for blog posts. I wasn’t using it every week, but it did spark a couple of articles for me that you can read here and here. It also sparked my motivation to get this blog rolling again after a dozen false starts and a platform change from Blogger to WordPress in the last 4-5 years or so.

To my surprise, I found that the prompts page hadn’t been updated since October 2017. So I sent out a tweet…

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Because, let’s be honest, I’ve committed to a new blog post every Friday at midnight, I HAVE A DEADLINE, and sometimes I just can’t get the writing juices flowing for anything that isn’t supposed to be a short story and turns into another attempt at a novel. So, I was really hoping for a prompt. As you can see from the screenshot above, I got one reply. It was from Professor Cathy Day, an amazing writer and professor in the Ball State English Department. I never had the pleasure of joining one of her classes due to scheduling conflicts, but she was still an amazing help when the insane schedule I had caused me to break down in the library at 1am during my third all-nighter in a row in the second week of my last semester… so, yeah, I LOVE Cathy!

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When I saw this, I read the article and sent a reply.

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And that was the end of the conversation. This happened on Tuesday, today is Thursday. In all of my college education filled intelligence, I didn’t realize until about 9am this morning (It’s 9:21 as I write this part.) that Cathy gave me a prompt the same way the BSUEnglish blog had been doing last year. All I thought about was 2 things:

  1. What did she mean not a lot of participation? That was gold right there. People doing part of the work for you, providing topics and inspiration relative to today’s world! Why wouldn’t anyone want to jump on it and take advantage of the discussion provided right there?!
  2. Why doesn’t Ball State do something like this? I mean, as someone still working at Lowe’s and really in a rut with my art, writing, and really everything, this seems like an amazing opportunity and I wish I had access to it.

So first, let me state again: I LOVE Cathy! She is an awesome and supportive person, even if you didn’t take any of her classes. She is a literary citizen extraordinaire.

This article isn’t really a Cathy Day love fest, though. Maybe I’ll write one of those later this year when I’m strapped for ideas. 😉

Neither is this article entirely about the initiative from DePauw University she told me about, though I’m sure that’s what she thought.

In the link Cathy gave me, DePauw University is announcing to alumni, which Cathy is one, a new commitment they are making to parents and students. If after 6 months their graduates have not found employment or entered graduate school DePauw will provide “an entry-level professional opportunity for them (at no less than six months), or give them an additional semester of education tuition free to further hone skills and knowledge.”

One of my first thoughts about this was that parents should keep their noses out of it and if a student wants to pursue a liberal arts education rather than a STEM degree, let them. It’s their choice, their life. But it was the commitment that DePauw is making that really floored me.

As a recent graduate who did not go to grad school right away, if at all – I’m still thinking about it and would probably really love to, and I’m still working a retail job that is trying its best to make me physically incapable of performing the tasks it provides me, I would love it if there was a support like this for me.

I won’t lie, I’ve been really depressed lately, some of it is hormones, but a lot of it is that I’m watching people I consider friends from college publish, get jobs in their field, go to grad school, move to the city, travel, doing amazing things with their lives. Meanwhile I barely have a presence on social media, I’m in constant physical pain because the job I work is a manual labor job with almost no use of my degree outside of the critical thinking skills I learned… and I may soon be unemployed because I don’t think I can continue this job without permanently injuring myself if I can’t get my body to heal. I’m 21, that’s too young for a permanent back injury. I’m still living at my grandparents’ house, and while I pay rent, it just isn’t being independent enough for me to be a person.

And that’s enough of the pity-me-fest… I told you, part of it is hormones, I’m 21 and only just figuring out who I really am outside of the structure of school – what do you expect?

But, without the amazing support of the #bsuenglish community, the Stars to Steer by Facebook group that Cathy has going, and the amazing friends I made at BSU who are encouraging me, recommending books to read, and just generally being awesome people, I’d be lost!

This post is kind of a thank you to them, as well as a way for me to understand what’s been going on in my head lately with all of these topics.

Support after college is one of the most important things any graduate can have. Even if you don’t get the job, just having someone who is constantly sharing job postings, letting you and all the other alumni know that hey, here’s a position/internship/whatever you should qualify for after going through the department programs.

No, BSU doesn’t provide me with an entry-level position. Neither are they giving me an extra semester tuition free to further hone my skills and knowledge to get a job. But, they are all there as a support group.

When I’m feeling down or like I’m a failure. I message a friend that also went through BSU English and has been through the same spot I’m in and I find encouragement, a few laughs, and solidarity.

It all makes me wish I’d done more to get out and be a person in college. I would have loved to hang out with these people, get to know them better in class, and join the clubs and causes they were in. I let my introversion and fear of going outside my belief system keep me from that. It was stupid because these are amazing people. They support amazing causes, and they support each other. I really wish I’d done better to get out there and be more interactive, but these people support me.

Even if it’s just with a book recommendation… or a list of books, in reply to a Facebook post.

So, this is my long-winded and rambling way of saying thank you to the friends I made in BSU English and to the community that is #bsuenglish for being there, for supporting me, and for just being a group of awesome people. Community is so important for everyone, not just writers and post-undergrad students who are feeling more than a little lost.

I love you all, and thank you!

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