How to get from orientation to graduation at UT

Amanda Almeda

Graduate third in your high school class. Listen bitterly to the bro roll call speech of your high school salutatorian and pop culture references of your valedictorian’s speech. Blame them for the missed opportunity to impart your wisdom to a class you feel desperately needs it. Spend the summer switching time between burying your nose in a book and holding your nose up in the air.

Start college in the fall. Join a career-oriented FIG and feel on track to graduate with prestigious offers within the field. Take your first microeconomics exam in a room of 500 people. Receive a grade two points fewer than average. Cry in your dorm and wonder about your self-worth. Flip through many, many flashcards. 

Meet an older boy smarter than anyone in your high school. Have a conversation with him about the book you were burying your nose in all summer. Feel smarter and more special than you have all semester. Fall stupidly, desperately in love. 

Get into your first argument. Cry when he tells you your argument style is indicative of your lack of competence in your desired career. Soul-search everywhere but inside your own head. Feel devastated when a year later, he breaks up with you because he can’t fall in love with you. Wonder about what you could do to change his mind. 

Add another major and immerse yourself in student organizations that allow you to keep your options open. Apply to study abroad the following semester and to another program that will allow you to explore other career interests and live outside of Austin the semester after that. Unintentionally develop interest in another boy too soon after. Recognize the chemistry, but realize some level of incompatibility. Break it off after realizing you can’t fall in love with him. Hope he understands later, like you did. Reclaim responsibility for your own self-worth. 

Start the following year abroad. Post pictures of the Louvre, beautiful beaches and schnitzel. Do not post pictures of the time you got lost in Italy or the seedy hostel you stayed at in Prague. Feel offended that people expect you to apologize on behalf of your country for Sandy Hook. Have a conversation about the arrogance behind the phrase “greatest country on earth.” Develop a better understanding of what it is like to be an outsider. 

Spend a semester in Washington, D.C. Feel jaded about politics in light of your experience abroad. Look for answers about your career, your identity as an American, your role as a citizen. Wonder how you could possibly be in the same program as these accomplished people. Return home with more questions than answers. 

Reunite with your old friends your senior year. Exhaust them with stories of your year away from Austin. Realize the realities of the job market. Attempt to balance recruiting with actual studying and your desire to say ‘yes’ to every last senior hurrah. 

Watch the days rush by until it’s time to write your last column. Feel a resurgence of bitterness from your senior year of high school and feel a thrill at the opportunity to redeem yourself. Attempt to impart the wisdom you wished you could share four years ago. Realize the cliche of general advice. Wonder at how anyone can be so prescriptive about something so personal. Realize all you have are 22 years of personal anecdotes. 

Almeda is a marketing senior from Seattle. This is her last column for The Daily Texan.