Class of 2011: I hope you dance

| Staff Columnist

Times right now seem really stressful to the class of 2011, and I mean both of them: the one that is graduating college in May (of which I am a member), and also the one graduating high school and currently picking where they will call home. Members of both groups likely worry about the upcoming years, knowing the future will be vastly different from the past but not sure how. Regardless, both groups should follow this key advice: dance.

Most of us probably remember the classic Lee Ann Womack song, “I Hope You Dance.” In addition to being the most popular mother-son Bar Mitzvah song of 2000, it has many critical key lessons that can help the class of 2011. My favorite is “living might mean taking chances, but they’re worth taking.” It’s a good song to keep in mind when making difficult, life-altering changes, especially ones like the class of 2011 will make in the upcoming weeks.

Many high school seniors have their choices of schools, but not all choices are the same. There are tons of options to weigh. Obviously, there are options that matter that you can find in Princeton Review, like type and size of school, but there are several key issues that a book cannot tell us. How far away from home? How hard are the academics? How many people will I know at the school?

One can calculate these answers, but processing the answers remains the more difficult task. Am I willing to be away from my family? Am I willing to put myself out there for a harder school with fewer people I know?

As for us leaving Wash. U., the path is no clearer. Most Wash. U. graduates move to a new city, to attend a new school or get a job. Many of us have not settled on a specific plan right now. We have a couple of options on the table, some safer than others. Do we go to a grad school now or wait a few years? Do we move to that dream city and look for a job or do we move back home and take a job that is acceptable? Do we take an okay job that we have now or wait for a better one?

I can’t answer these questions for anyone else. Each individual has to weigh the options and make these decisions. But too often, we focus on the risks involved without taking into account the rewards. We focus on going to school far away as missing time at home and ignore how much we will grow by being independent. We see a school with no one we know as a negative when it can be a positive: When else in life do you get to rewrite who you are, be a completely different person if you want to be? We see passing on a decent job for a great one we don’t have yet as extending the horrible period of unemployment.

But as a great philosopher once said, “living might mean taking chances, but they’re worth taking.” I chose to go to college thousands of miles away in a city where I knew no one and bigger than the others I looked at. I did so because it made me nervous. I hoped that it would make me grow, and going to Wash. U. was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It was a great chance to take because it’s the risk that makes it great. So when you get a choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.