Ryan Baker J486

Valedictory Essay

Posted by Ryan Baker on April 25th, 2023

For me, college was something that was automatic in my family, mainly because that was just what was engrained into my head from the day I started school. Which I thought was odd because my dad had dropped out of high school, and my mom did not make past her first year in college. All of the work I had put in when I was in middle and high school was because of college. Furthermore, I had taken a full year of general education credits as a high school senior solely because of that. There wasn’t really any other reasons.

            Well, when I made it to the University of Kentucky in the fall of 2020, just after the Covid-19 pandemic had started to tailor off, it was much different than I had thought. I had a much different college experience than most. I thought it was going to be partying, having a good time, learning valuable information and application. However, it was not really any of those.

            In Kentucky, I was stuck in the Honors College dorms, and you were not allowed into anyone else’s dorms. After so much isolation, I decided to go home to MN for a gap semester. After deciding it was time to get back into school, I had gotten rejected from UW-Madison after being accepted the prior year. I still wanted to live in a house in Madison with my two best friends, and since Whitewater was the next closest school, I ended up here.

            Even then, it was not what I thought. I wasn’t really learning anything new, I wasn’t having fun, and I was not even applying the information given to me. However, this senior year has changed a bit for me. I finally had moved up into the actual city, and I have had a ton of fun being here this entire year. While, the information given to me has not been all that new due to the fact that most the things I spent last year and most of this year on, I had been studying since my sophomore year in high school, the application piece was finally in play.

            I always get asked by people if I had regretted going to college. I always say that I don’t regret it, but I think I would have done things differently if I had all the information I have now, back then. However, the caveat to that is that I do not know what differently means. The more and more I think about it, the more and happier I am with my decision because of the opportunities that have been given to me. None of these were here two months back, so this would have been a completely different answer then.

            My career path has not faltered since my sophomore year of high school and it surely has not now. I majored in journalism because I saw very early that writing was something I enjoyed doing and that I exceled at without any hesitation. All my other school subjects started to teeter off towards the end of high school, not writing. Especially now, seeing all the possibilities and things that I can in the journalism industry, it has just enhanced my confidence in my choice of career.

            I think I view the world as a lot more intense than I had before, but that is because of all the opportunities that have been given to me throughout this final semester. I went from no more school, a summer internship tied to a career placement, and living with my dad to getting a master’s degree, being a GIA, writing for the Edgerton newspaper, and writing for the Madison Radicals, the same internship, and working overnights. It is a lot going on in just the past couple months. There is only so much time in a day.

            The intensity has not really changed me because I am so used to it. I went from working 70 hours a week, to going to Kentucky, back to the 70 hours, to now all the stuff I have going on now. The way I spend my time is definitely a lot different now. I have clear intentions when doing something that occupies my time. I do that with a purpose, and there is not much wasted time. I know a cliché thing to say after college is that I learned how to manage my time better, but it is the truth. I thought I had it all figured out. I thought had a pretty good grip of managing my time, however when things pile up one after another with all the same intensity and priority you really learn to have more emphasis on what you are doing, where, and when you are doing it. That is what I have taken away most from my time here, and that is also the aspect of my life that has changed me the most.

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