Which brings up the scary question: Has St. Olaf prepared me to enter the real world? There are statistics St. Olaf flaunts about what St. Olaf students are doing six months out from graduation. From 1997 to 2002, according to a St. Olaf survey, 100 percent of graduates were doing something--whether it be graduate school, full-time volunteering or employment. But this is not exactly bolstering--just like the ones who know what they are doing always ask, those that have something to report are going to fill out the survey from their alma mater. If you are not going to do anything, why would you tell St. Olaf?
But seriously, am I prepared to enter the real world? For me, being from outside of Minnesota, I fear the St. Olaf name does not carry the weight that it does in the Midwest. I find myself relying on the name of my high school when applying for jobs in my hometown, but feel slightly pathetic about it.
I have eaten almost every meal in the Caf for four years, so I am not completely sure I won't burn my house down. I have lived on campus all four years, so I am not completely sure that I know how utilities work. My advisor and other faculty have held my hand and walked me through picking classes and the steps to applying to graduate school. Do I know how to do anything myself?
But perhaps I am selling myself short. After all, I have successfully navigated the airport every time I go home for break including the one time I had to sleep in Salt Lake City over Thanksgiving. I have passed all my classes without a lot of handholding and cajoling from faculty members or friends. I have successfully landed several summer jobs over the last three years, one of which I actually had to be competitive to get. And I work at the Manitou Messenger as the executive editor. So really, I must be doing ok.
I think looking at this, I have realized that my success depends less on St. Olaf and more on myself. For example, you can go to Harvard, not try and get a terrible education or go to the University of Minnesota, work very hard and get a great education. In 2000, half of all grades awarded were an A or an A-. So what can it all really mean? Rankings, prestige, tradition all mean nothing. What really counts is personal performance. Maybe to some extent St. Olaf prepared me for this, but ultimately it was up to me. And apparently it will be up to me to get a job. Lord help me.