One week down… forty-six to go.

And that’s only when school is in session. That’s how many weeks of class I’ll have to try and get a degree. If I don’t get through all credits before then, I know that I will acquire more loans or have to find some other way of paying for it.

But that’s another story. Or at least another branch on this story. Or a fork in the road. Or… wait, what are we talking about?

Oh, yes, the reasons to be in an academic setting, and why more jobs should take the model.

I realized after I’d been back in class for a week and then went back to my job that there is one huge difference between college and the working world that will not be able to be taught. There are often huge discussions between teachers and departments about how to really prepare students for the real world, how to get the transition smoother from an academic to a work setting. There are usually a lot of disparaging remarks make about the ‘real’ world. But those are mostly talking about skills sets and work hours. They don’t really address environmental attitude.

One thing that my Teaching colloquium teacher keeps emphasizing to us is that the entire department is glad to help us on our journey and that their entire goal is for us to do well. We, in turn, have to have the same enthusiasm for our students to do well. The whole college is here, at our disposal, to help us get ahead, get a leg up, and get out in the real world as shining stars.

On the other hand, most work environments could care less about you. You might be incredibly lucky to have a manager or mentor who are willing to take you under their wing and encourage you to greatness. But that’s rare. Especially in a corporate or large company environment. Their whole goal is for them to do well, and they are adamant and very up-front about it.

That, of course, means that as soon as you leave the hollowed halls, you are suddenly transported into a cut-throat, selfish, and hectic world, one where if you don’t have the right degree and the right timing, you’re ShOL.

I understand that this isn’t something we can really prepare someone for. Non-traditional students almost have a more harried look when they first get here, because they KNOW what’s waiting out there when they get done. That’s why most of them are here. It may take them a few semesters to settle into the chill pace and really get used to asking for help. I know when I was first in college, I had no idea what individual teachers could help me with, and I NEVER went to the writing center. Now that I’ve been, shall we say, in the Shark Pool, I can appreciate these buoys.

Unfortunately, we can’t all live in college. Though some of us may try.

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