Monday, June 6, 2011

40 Years Ago today – Graduate


According to the piece of paper that is in a frame, today was the last day I ever had to go to school.

It was finally over. I had taken all the classes and passed all the test (though I’m not sure of their calculations) and now I was free of about 20 years of having to go to a desk and listen to some one tell me things I was not interested in and then ask me to give the boring information back so I could pass on to the next level.

Yet, here I was. June 6, 1971, the date of a college graduate.

It really wasn’t a college it was a university. It didn’t start out that way. When I applied to the only higher learning facility, I had hopes that it would take me with my bad SAT scores and keep me out of applying to the Coast Guard.

The college of choice was local, cheap, had an art school, and would take anybody in. That was good enough for me, so I applied and was accepted.

The first year was high school part two, which meant I didn’t apply myself. Then I got an apartment and really didn’t apply myself (at least to schoolwork).

Professors were being transferred back and forth so a Fashion instructor was teaching basic design and a Art History instructor was teaching illustration and a Fine Art instructor was teach art history. It was all mixed up.
The institute I had applied to and be accepted in was morphing into a university below my very feet and I didn’t know it.

After some crazy projects with little follow up or instructions, my counselor told me I would never make it to graduation.

What were my options? Staying in school with a 1-S-H student deferment status OR getting drafted and going to Vietnam.

So I decided to change majors to “Communications” and continued to arrange courses I knew I could pass. To help with my incentive, my father decided I should pay my own way.

Suddenly, the classes became important. Silly professors drew my wrath, easy subjects became a breeze, and a few of us artsy fartsy types made presentations for the dull ones to marvel over. The game was on.

The end of Junior year, with the assistance of a lot of psychedelic substances and the “Ah Ha!” moment of learning how to open a text book, my grades jumped to an acceptable level and the classes became easy.

So 40 years ago, today, I was to receive a diploma for all my hard work. I didn’t go to the graduation because it was not cool, so the paper was delivered to my home address.
Not being the first in the family to receive a diploma, my father was still proud enough to frame it. Considering the path, it was rather exceptional.

A few years later, I was even to teach in one of the classes as an Ad Hoc professor. I always wanted to go back to my counselor and tell him I had not only graduated but became an Art Director, but he died.

So after all the theory that was taught 40 years ago, I had to be retrained in my new profession to the techniques and requirements of the working world.

I suppose the four years helped mold the processes, but it keep me out of the draft, allowed me some freedom, and make life changing decisions.
I’m still not out of the woods.

1 comment:

TripleG said...

RPI was the beach bar of colleges -- cheap, fun, perfect in its location, lively with music and art made right there. It couldn't last because it wasn't about generating piles of money; it was about growing people. They were the scrubs who didn't have private school, insider help or influential families. But a lot had talent and imagination.
And you know, the kids turned out all right.