Chapter 1: Looking Forward to “College Possible”
[Editor’s Note: Amy Browender ’13, Kyle Ruedinger ’13, Elizabeth Brown ’13, and Jessie Lillis ’13 are writing alternating monthly entries for the Ripon College Newsletter chronicling their post-graduation experiences. We hope you enjoy their perspectives on Life After Ripon!]
When I was first asked to contribute to Ripon’s alumni newsletter, my greatest fear was that I would have nothing of substance to write about. As an English and Art History double major, I had spent my final year at Ripon reveling in my classes while simultaneously fearing perpetual unemployment. While I never once regretted declaring my respective majors, the thought of life after Ripon was accompanied with trepidation and anxiety; to me, the career path and employment options for a student of the humanities felt substantially less clear and less feasible than it would be for someone who majored in something like business or accounting.
Four days before graduation, I received a phone call that had previously seemed more impossible than securing a spot on an episode of Jeopardy. About a month earlier, I had completed the application and interview process for a position with a nonprofit called College Possible (formerly “Admission Possible”), but quickly dismissed the notion of being hired after having executed what felt like the most disastrous interview of all time. Then, about five minutes before I left with my roommates to attend the senior-week excursion to a Timber Rattlers game in May, I got a call from a woman at College Possible, offering me an 11-month term with the organization at a high school in the Twin Cities. A wave of relief washed over me as I accepted the offer the next day, and the knowledge that I had a job waiting for me made graduation day that much better.
Since then, I’ve moved back home to Saint Paul and relocated into my sister’s old room at my parent’s house. Mom and Dad had gotten very good at being empty-nesters, so making the transition to being home for the foreseeable future has probably been more difficult for them than it has for me. Waiting for my College Possible term to start, I have returned to my part-time retail position that I’ve had every summer since starting college and keep myself busy whenever I’m not working.
I find myself existing within this awkward middle ground between college life and adulthood, which seems to be a common trend among people my age. Because I’m back in my hometown and living with my parents without a new semester at Ripon to look forward to, some days it feels like I’m back in high school. Cooking dinner as often as possible typically makes me feel a little more grown up and less of a child, but then I remember that I didn’t pay for the groceries. That tends to take some (alright, most) of the magic away.
At this point, I’m just really looking forward to doing meaningful work with College Possible, and I know that having a full-time position will make me feel a little more productive and mature. I don’t feel like a college graduate yet, but I expect I will pretty soon. My job title is “College Possible Senior Coach,” which means I’ll be helping a group of high school seniors navigate the college admissions process. I’ll be working with three other coaches at my high school, and I couldn’t be more excited about my team as well as the organization as a whole.
Between graduation and the beginning of my College Possible training, I’ve been having a great summer. I went back to Ripon in June for Alumni Weekend, caught up with many friends and professors, and then stopped in Milwaukee to spend an afternoon at the art museum. When I’m lucky enough to get a whole day off of work, I spend my afternoons browsing through local antique and thrift stores, searching for vintage Betty Crocker cookbooks and hoping to stumble upon a long-lost masterpiece at Goodwill. I play trivia every Monday night with old friends from high school, and I’ve been reading as often as possible. I’ve taken tours of both the Minnesota and North Dakota state capitols, recalling lessons from art history and English courses I took throughout my four years at Ripon. I’ve seen one of my advisors twice, one of them in St. Paul, where we browsed the Minneapolis Institute of Arts together and then caught up over a vegetarian pizza.
While some may leave college behind after graduation, I’m doing my best to reference what I learned in school and continue building on it. My other biggest fear about graduation—aside from unemployment—was leaving a formal learning environment. It’s easy to get desensitized and carry on through the day passively when not in “school mode” on a daily basis. One of the most important things I was taught at Ripon wasn’t about any subject in particular but was that education is a continual process. Your lessons may or may not be linear, inherently logical, or expected, but your education doesn’t stop when you receive your diploma at commencement; instead, it’s where it all begins again. I anticipate I’ll be learning as much this upcoming year as I did every year at Ripon, and I couldn’t be more excited!
Amy J. Browender ’13
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