A common question posed to graduates or soon-to-be-graduates is “What’s next?” I didn’t know the answer to this question for a long time. Even now, I have only a vague idea. But I hope that my sharing this experience can help you consider the different avenues to take post-graduation.
I want to take a lighter year, which means not exactly a gap year of pure leisure but at the same time: I don’t intend to commit myself to a graduate program or a 9-5. I had applied for a Fulbright Traditional Award last fall, and I just received news of my application being successful. I will be taking up this award, most likely, at a non-profit research institute located within the University of Chicago.
I have not yet fully hashed out the terms of my responsibilities with the advisor supporting my research next year. But having the Fulbright award means not having to fret about visa arrangements, for the award comes with one. If you are considering a year working at a think tank, or a non-profit in the US, or even a year taking up post-graduate studies, I recommend this award. Without it, the living expenses of relocating to Chicago would have been too much to absorb.
Looking back to the present, I am getting ready for graduation by applying all my efforts toward a final assignment. It is a 6000-word paper on the ethics of insuring self-driving cars. Most of my days are spent reading, I haven’t started writing yet. Over the course of my undergraduate career, I found that I worked most effectively by writing and organizing my notes first—then to connect the ideas in the final paper.
I’m thankful for my time at the University of Toronto. It has taught me how to write effectively, and it has allowed me to meet many people I wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. Among them are professors, peers, and staff who have supported my ideas and initiatives. This student life position, for instance, imbued me with a confidence in my non-academic voice. It taught me to be confident in sharing even the most mundane aspects of my life, among them growing celery from what would have been a discarded root.
There have been many difficult moments, many of them spent in a state of anxious anticipation, over the course of my last four years here. I would fret over how the exam of my political theory course went. Then I would fret some more about appealing for a re-grade. And then I would realize that it is just a grade, and that it wouldn’t change my future. Other times, I have waited for life-changing opportunities, like the Fulbright Killam Fellowship. And then I’d realize that all my anxiety spent waiting was for nothing—everything happens the way it does, irrespective of how anxious I felt.
I’ve had a great run as an undergraduate here at the St. George campus (and beyond!) I hope that for those of who you are graduating, you’ll find great opportunity and pleasure in your post-grad life. And if you are a returning student, that you’ll seek all the avenues of opportunity available at our school. Best of luck!