Daily reports about the high cost of higher education and student loan debt, coupled with the difficulty of landing good jobs after graduation, makes one wonder if there is anything to celebrate during this year’s commencement season.

You can call me an eternal optimist – a “glass half full guy” – but I believe there is much to celebrate as thousands of men and women of all ages don their caps and gowns and march across the stage to receive their hard-earned diplomas this month.

While some of our graduates always assumed that college would be part of their preparation for life and a career, many of those receiving their sheepskin are the first in their family to go to college, others postponed college to serve in the military, and others struggled to earn their degree while balancing family or work commitments.

Regardless of the circumstances that brought them to college, all will be richer for having an experience that should have broadened their perspective, honed their analytical skills, helped them to better express themselves, and given them the self confidence to compete in an ever more challenging global community.

While getting a job after graduation is important, it is not the only important outcome of earning a college degree. It is my hope that our new crop of graduates will have fallen in love with learning, embraced the discipline to search for the truth, developed an understanding of and an appreciation for cultures other than their own, developed a desire to help solve the problems facing our society, and begun to find their own voices as budding public intellectuals. These all help us become better human beings and citizens.

It is a fact that those with a college degree earn approximately a million dollars more in their lifetimes than high school graduates. But what may enrich one’s life even more is taking advantage of time spent in college to develop a lifelong joy of learning.

Congratulations to all who have earned this ticket to continue to discover a larger world.


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