What people do once they finish college is always a big question as graduation rolls around, particularly during a recession, when no one seems to have jobs. Maybe this worry is misplaced, writes University of Virginia English Professor Mark Edmundson in an op-ed in the New York Times. After graduating from Bennington College in 1974, Edmundson once worked on the stage crew at a Pink Floyd show, in which he spent a memorable evening trying to set up a white canopy over the stage. According to Edmundson:

“So, what are you doing after graduation?” Thirty-five years later, a college teacher, I ask my students the old question. They aren’t inclined to dissimulate now. The culture is on their side when they tell me about law school and med school and higher degrees in journalism and business; or when they talk about a research grant in China or a well-paying gig teaching English in Japan.

I’m impressed, sure, but I’m worried about them too. Aren’t they deciding too soon? Shouldn’t they hang out a little, learn to take it slow? I can’t help it. I flash on that canopy of white silk floating out into the void. I can see it as though it were still there. I want to point up to it. I’d like for my students to see it, too.

People go to college, after all, to become educated, not merely to get lucrative jobs. In fact, at 22 years old, most people have no idea what they want to do after college. Maybe don’t take this sort of thing too seriously. Unless, you know, one has student loans to pay off. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer