There are a lot of things for a graduating senior to be anxious about.
First of all, of course, you have to be sure that you do graduate, which means taking care of the schoolwork that remains on your plate.
For many, this includes wrapping up capstones or final theses, meaning that those ideas you’ve had in your head for two years finally have to actually coalesce into something real.
You’re actually going to have to finish – and you’re going to have to do so while writing those final papers or completing those final projects that are a part of the end of every semester, including your senior semester.
Not an easy task.
Then you have to figure out what comes next. Now, I’m not saying this is hard for every senior – there are friends of mine who know exactly what they’re doing after May 17.
Some of them are headed to grad school, and others have jobs and apartments lined up.
They’re going to step seamlessly into their new life, no prob. They’re excited, and I’m excited for them.
But I know just as many others who have no idea what’s happening next. I include myself and my wife in this category.
We have leads, sure. Lines in the water. Eventually, something’s going to bite, and we’ll be fine.
But until that point, what we have is stress. Loads of it.
And we’re not alone.
Even with all of these stressors bouncing around inside my skull for the past few months, I’ve become aware of something else that I’m worried about: losing my spiritual foundation.
That sounds more ominous than I mean it to. I’m not talking about losing my faith or rejecting the church; I’m talking about leaving the strong spiritual environment that I’ve come to enjoy here on Bison Hill, and leaving some of the people that have become mentors in my life.
Because I am leaving. It’s happening.
My wife and I are leaving Oklahoma, we’re headed to a new adventure.
The church that we’ve come to be a part of will be left behind.
Our professors and mentors here on Bison Hill can’t come with us.
We’ll have to find a new church family. A new small group. New people that we can open up to about our faith, that we can encourage and be encouraged by.
And like it or not, I’m going to miss the environment of faithfulness that Bison Hill encourages.
Think about it. First of all, we have chapel. I know that these can be annoying at times – I know that you’re certainly not just amped to go every Wednesday.
But these services, I’ve found, have a way of really sneaking up on you.
Often it was the Wednesdays when I least wanted to be there that I found God speaking to me the clearest – and what He was telling me, often, was to slow down. To focus up.
Then there’s the classes themselves.
It’s an unusual thing to have Christian truths sprinkled into your study, into your disciplines.
This isn’t going to happen at work. My boss isn’t going to stop a staff meeting to make connections to the Gospel.
There won’t be a spiritual life office at my company. There won’t be an RA or an RN asking me how my walk with the Lord is going.
I’m trying to say that we’re inundated with the Christian message around here, and while I know that can feel annoying at times during your college career, it’s a blessing. An unusual blessing.
At no other time of my life will I have all these resources to grow spiritually.
I’m leaving that behind, and it’s a worry to me.
Sure, OBU is a bubble. But there’s a part of me that’s going to miss that bubble
Oklahoma Baptist University’s class of spring 2018 graduates in 30 days. With a month left to go, graduating seniors are juggling capstones, exams, chapel credits and extra-curricular activities along with a more daunting prospect: job hunting.
Looking for a career, trying to decide what city to live and work in and worrying about the transition into the adult world can be overwhelming, and in the midst of all this life-planning, the natural human response is to desire a plan.
How can we have faith in the Lord’s plan in a transition where it seems like everyone in our lives expects us to have it all figured out?
“I am a full-fledged planner and God knows it too,” Alyssa Sperrazza, fall 2017 graduate, said. “There have been so many times I’ve jumped the gun or tried to plan things out and Jesus is just over there going, ‘what are you doing? I got this!’ Patience and trusting in His plan are certainly not my strong suits.”
Sperrazza started searching for jobs the summer after her junior year. She is currently interning at the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting in Washington D.C.
“I’ll be honest, when I first moved to D.C., it was not the smoothest transition,” she said. “I was moving to a different part of the country, all by myself, barely knowing a soul. Leaving all my family and friends behind was rough.”
Sperrazza said that she learned how to rely on the Lord in her transition period because she had no other choice.
“It took a few months, but when I finally reached a place where I could call D.C. home, I was so thankful for those weeks where God taught me total reliance on Him,” she said.
While some graduates, like Alyssa, find paid internships after graduation, some grads go straight into the career field. Lia Hillman, who graduated in the Spring of 2017, started working a week after graduation.
She’s currently working for a company that produces newspapers for four small communities.
As some of her fellow grads were still submitting applications, Hillman was thrown straight into the stress of the working world.
“Within a few months, we had several people quit for various reasons leaving just two of us in charge of every little aspect of running four newspapers,” she said.
“I had a lot of growing up to do with all the sudden responsibilities. It’s been draining, overwhelming, fun and exciting all at the same time.”
A few months after she started working, Hillman’s 16-year-old cousin was killed in a car accident. Shortly after, she started working 70-80 hours a week.
“I started immersing myself in work and didn’t spend any time with family or friends. I even had to miss my family’s Thanksgiving because I was behind with work. After that, I decided that I wasn’t where I wanted to be in my life at this particular stage of my life,” she said.
“And ever since I reminded myself to breathe and take a break every once in a while, things have been much better! I do know that I never want to be in the position where I neglect my family and friends because of work.”
Hillman doesn’t know what the rest of her life will look like, but said that she has been comforted by advice from her family and the Lord’s promise.
“It’s hard to want to have faith in God’s plan,” she said. “I want to know what my life is going to be like in five years so I can know that what I’m doing will be worth it. But that’s impossible! So right now, all I can have is faith and trust in His plan.”
Katie Gilbert, spring 2016 graduate, needed to have faith in that plan not only in her career, but in the period of searching that it took to find it.
She looked for full time jobs while working at Falls Creek the summer after graduating. After three months of searching, she started working as a multimedia technician at the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
“It isn’t what I imagined for myself for sure. Sometimes I think I made the wrong choice honestly, but God has really worked in me to be content where I am at and understand he has a future for me,” she said.
Gilbert said that even though she occasionally doubts the choices that brought her to her current position, she believes those feelings are normal.
“The current generation in college tends to think that once they graduate they have to have THE job that they dreamed of or planned on. Some people do and some people don’t; God has a funny way of teaching us patience, though,” she said.
Andrew Thomsen, who graduated in the fall of 2016, waited for a full semester before finding his career.
As a future educator, he didn’t want to start teaching in the middle of the school year. He said that looking for a long-term job wasn’t nearly as stressful as trying to decide what to do in the in-between period.
“I had three really good options that I had considered at length leading up to graduation. All three could be easily used to point to Him, which made the choice difficult,” he said. “Fortunately, God knows I like to procrastinate, and also that I’m terrible at making decisions.”
The interview process for his short-term job was short enough to force him to make quick decisions, and Thomsen said that he had more peace with the decision as he got closer to the position.
“As for my teaching career, I do not think there was really any conflict with God’s plan,” Thomsen said. “I knew sophomore year of college that I was supposed to go into education. The only issue upon graduation was determining where to teach. I had a strong passion for my home community and its schools, years before I felt God’s calling to be a teacher.”
While he hoped to teach at Carl Albert High School, one of Thomsen’s old teachers encouraged him to apply at the middle school as well, where he was eventually hired.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10
“Seniors! Don’t feel like you have to have ‘it’ whatever that is right after college. Yes, some people magically have the Instagram perfect life, but we are all going through different things. Be content with where you are, understanding God has a plan or purpose, but be ready to pick up and leave at His calling.”
“Keep going. You don’t have to have life figured out. I’ve learned that even the most seemingly put together people don’t know what they’re doing all the time. You may think you know exactly what you want to do now, but in three months or three years, you may find out that you love something else. Just keep going, and keep doing good in the world.”
“I would advise young adults to not take their college environments for granted, and then when they graduate, young adults should not over-extend themselves to too many commitments that take their time away from having the opportunity to meet more people around their age. You have to work to have money needed, but do not be so consumed with making money that you do not leave ample social time.”
“My advice to graduating seniors would be to apply for anything remotely close to what you want to do. Also, don’t limit yourself to where you apply. When I was looking for jobs, I made sure to look at all 50 states and abroad. There’s plenty of time in your life for you to be picky, but while you can, go anywhere, see new places, continue learning new skills and worry about the smaller details later. Also, if you don’t get your “dream job” right away, don’t be discouraged. Chances are, the people that inspire you the most didn’t get there’s right away either! Be willing to grow, willing to learn, and enjoy this time where you can go and do anything you can imagine!”
By Abigail Chadwick, Assistant News Editor (Courtesy Photo)
Seniors gathered in the bookstore Monday, March 12, and Tuesday, March 13, for Senior Salute. The event had various stations to help seniors complete steps for graduation preparation.
Students who could not attend or did not go to every station can still complete these steps, but some purchased items will be more expensive. Seniors who missed Senior Salute will receive an email with information on the necessary steps.
“Teri’s [Teri Walker, OBU degree counselor] going to email everybody that [didn’t] come and then they’ll have a list of places they need to go, which is basically to see all of us,” Melinda Newpher, student loan/collections manager, said. “We just try to make it simpler for these few days, so that they can get it all in one place and be done.”
Seniors must submit a graduation application. Seniors who have not submitted their graduation application yet will receive an email prompting them to do so.
“It’s not important right now, but it’s the name you want on your diploma and a diploma mailing address, stuff that will get important to you,” Walker said. “So make sure you get that to me.”
Seniors who have not completed their chapel requirements will not be able to graduate. For some, this will mean completing chapel reports.
“If they don’t meet the requirement they won’t be allowed to participate in graduation,” Sharon Eulberg, secretary to the dean of students said.
The first step in starting chapel reports is visiting Eulberg’s office.
“They have to come to me,” Eulberg said. “We look and see how many reports that they need to write and then I contact Dale Griffin and Kelley Chlouber.”
Students at Senior Salute also received information on their Stafford loan, if applicable. The form and a booklet given had information on determining the amount of money owed and how to go about paying off the loan.
“[http://www.nslds.ed.gov] is where you would be able to go online right now and see exactly how much you owe on your Stafford loan,” Newpher said. “[http://www.studentloans.gov] will tell you what to do from here, what your options are for repayment.”
Graduation tickets will be picked up the week of graduation at Eulberg’s office. An email with more details will be sent out later.
“You’ll receive an email from me that’s going to let you know to pick the tickets up. You can start picking them up the week of graduation,” Eulberg said. “You’ll come to my office to pick the tickets up.”
Seniors will have a $50 graduation fee, which must be paid before graduation. Additional fees will be applied later if seniors don’t return mail keys and books.
“If you have a mailbox key you’re going to want to be sure you return that before you leave so you don’t get charged a re-key fee,” Lisa Cook, senior student financial services counselor, said. “If you’ve rented any books or checked out any books, you want to make sure you return those so you don’t get charged. Upon leaving campus, if there’s any remaining charges or anything like that, those won’t even hit your account until the summer so make sure you open up any emails that you get from OBU.”
The campus bookstore sells both regalia (cap, gown and tassel) and alumni merchandise (shirts, stickers, mugs, and diploma frames). The 20 percent sale for alumni merchandise only applied at Senior Salute, but the price for regalia remains the same.
“We always do 20 percent off the day of Senior Salute,” Duncan Lyle. OBU bookstore manager said. “The 20 percent doesn’t apply to regalia. So, the regalia packages are always going to be $49.99 and then each individual item has its own price…You can stop by anytime between now and graduation.”
Graduation announcements and rings can be purchased online at http://www.jostens.com. However, if not ordered in time, announcements will not arrive before graduation.
“It takes three weeks to get [the announcements] and about six weeks [for the rings],” Carrie Bricker, Jostens’ sales associate, said.
While announcement prices remain the same after Senior Salute, ring prices increased by more than $100.
“We have an event special [for Senior Salute], it starts at about $269 and then if you go online it’s about $389,” Bricker said. “The announcements can be ordered online and you do not have to pay any extra online.”
One stop at Senior Salute had seniors leave an email address that they will be using after leaving OBU, so that OBU can follow-up on what seniors do after they graduate.
“We will be following up with all the graduates after graduation in that six-month window to do our reporting for the next year to show, where our graduates went to work and where they went to grad school,” Lori Hagans, director of career services and alumni engagement, said. “So, we hope everyone will respond.”