Reality Isn’t Pretty

As this final semester of graduate school winds down and with an in-person commencement forever postponed, there seems to be a strong disconnect between what universities want people to see, and what the majority of students actually experienced.

I reflect on this now, after having read some stories of fellow 2020 graduates—and by stories, I mean the “puff pieces” that universities and major organizations, in general, like to share. Having been posted by Georgetown, they are naturally glowing reviews by proud overachievers. During their time at school, for example, they took photos with Hillary Clinton; attended fancy events; served on executive boards of several organizations; interned at the White House; made best friends with their professors, advisors, and peers; and seemed to simply have the best time ever, all while saving the world and getting straight As.

In a Carrie Bradshaw-esque fashion, it all makes me wonder: where was the struggle? What about the relatively “average” experiences that may actually tell better stories of what students undergo, especially when these final months and jobs get thwarted by a global pandemic?

I get it. Publishing the struggles is taboo and maybe even catastrophic for their bottom line. These stories are as much advertisements as they are carefully selected testimonies. And yes, especially during these times, we need some good news more than ever.

I suppose I just want to see the other side. I can’t imagine anyone reading these success stories, thinking, “Wow! I can totally relate!”

And that’s the problem, isn’t it?