Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Support, Don’t Judge Others’ Postgrad Plans

Photo by Erin Koo, Photo Editor
Tappan Square in the fall.

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with a friend who I hadn’t seen in a while for dinner. We exchanged pleasantries, chatted about life, and of course, because we are both second-semester seniors, the big question came up. 

“So, what are your plans for next year?”

This has been the moment I’ve hated in many conversations over the last few months. I find myself sheepish, overexplaining, and justifying. Why? Because next year, I plan on staying in Oberlin. 

  I have a few reasons for doing this. Financially alone, it makes a lot of sense. I can get a job with a starting salary and not have to worry about the insanely high rent prices of places like Boston or New York City, nor the generally higher cost of living associated with bigger cities. By staying here for a little bit, I am hoping to grow my savings while still enjoying my quality of life. 

There is nothing wrong with living in a tiny studio apartment in the city and overall living sparingly if that feels good! I don’t write this to be disparaging of any sort of lifestyle, I just know that trying to patch together an income in the city would stress me out. I will be living in a three bedroom apartment with in-unit laundry and a number of other perks which I feel will benefit me, all while not breaking my bank on rent prices. 

While I don’t have a job nailed down yet, I am really hoping to work at the College. They are offering a couple of jobs that align well with my career goals and that feel attainable for me. If not the College, I am looking at Cleveland or remote jobs in the publishing industry. Despite this geographic area not being the hub of the industry, I feel that I have a number of options.

Another factor is that my partner will still be in school. I am not ashamed to say it: I love her very much and while nothing is certain yet — we are still young — I really hope that we can build a life together. It feels right for me to stay here and live with her and see if that can work out.  She means the world to me, and while I don’t believe in sacrificing everything else for the sake of a relationship, I think that there is nothing wrong with having it be a point of consideration for one’s decisions. 

Finally, there’s a truth about me that I’ve found hard to admit, but I’m not sure it should be. I really hate transitions. I don’t like changes; I have a hard time with new physical environments. While I am very excited to begin my career and life outside of college, I have recognized that, for me, adjusting to the change in lifestyle would be so much easier if I stayed in a location that is familiar to me. I have loved my four years at Oberlin. 

They have arguably been the best of my life. This place is so dear to my heart, and I would be thrilled to work for the College. I am genuinely excited that I will get to experience what the town is like without the lens of being a student. 

As I struggled to put all this into words during my friend and I’s conversation, she stopped me and told me that she is hoping to stay in this area as well, for some of the exact same reasons. I was so relieved and felt validated. For a second, I wondered why I had been so nervous to talk about this. A good friend shouldn’t judge you for your postgraduate plans. 

And my close friends don’t: we have all been so supportive of each other. But I have had a number of interactions with various acquaintances, people who I don’t know quite as well, where I can tell that they begin to look at me differently. 

Oberlin College has a lot of cool people doing a lot of cool things. This is something that drew me to the school when I was 18 and something I’ve continued to be awed by. However, I feel that there is a pressure for postgraduate life to look a certain way — that if you aren’t abroad on a Fulbright scholarship, for example, or living it up in the big city, you’ve failed. There is an expectation to be instantly “successful.”

I am here to challenge this notion of what it means to be successful. I think instead, we should be asking ourselves if we think our plans will make us truly happy. 

For me, I like small towns, I am an introvert, and I don’t want to move somewhere that would make me uncomfortable and spend my time pretending to be someone who I’m not. I believe that staying in Oberlin is what will make me happy, at least for the time being. 

Success, both personally and professionally, looks very different for different people. While my dream job is to write music reviews and work at somewhere like Rolling Stone, realistically, I know that this won’t happen right out of college. By staying here, I can get professional experience in the workplace and build my portfolio through attending shows in the Cleveland area and by being involved with a smaller press. 

I also don’t have to base everything I do around my job. I value my hobbies, time with those I care about, and time spent relaxing. To me, this seems a lot like success. 

One of my mantras has always been to live and let live. As long as someone’s choices aren’t hurting you, and they’re benefiting themselves, why judge? Why even care, honestly? I think that we, as a graduating class, should be supporting each other to do whatever is right for us as individuals. There is absolutely nothing wrong with anyone’s postgraduate plans, whether they are traveling, moving somewhere new, staying with  parents, or staying in Oberlin. Any option is as valid as any of the others, so long as it feels right for them. I urge us to stop comparing our postgraduate plans and lofting some above others. 

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