You're cruising around hill country in a Jeep Wrangler having the time of your life. The scenery is fantastic, the breeze whipping through your hair is glorious, and you're having a full-on, flat-out blast. Suddenly, you see a sign ahead:


You continue to cruise along, giving no regard to the sign of impending doom that just went by. Soon, another sign of similar verbiage appears on the top of the next hill. The distance indicated is slightly smaller.

As the distance appearing on these signs becomes smaller and smaller, and is progressively measured in smaller and smaller units, you continue to accelerate in order to catch some seriously sweet air on the upcoming hills.

The final hill is crested and you suddenly notice something on the horizon. The bridge at the foot of the hill you are rolling down has been destroyed.

You try throwing on the brakes, but the momentum with which you surmounted the last hill is too great to slow down from. Attempting to apply the handbrake proves futile. You have clearly identified that, indeed, the signs were correct and that stopping has been rendered an impossibility.

Such is my plight.

I have been feverishly pursuing academic excellence for more than sixteen years now. My life has consisted of little else than going to class, participating in school-sanctioned activities and avoiding assignments like AIDS.

Then, out of nowhere, my last year of college shows up on my doorstep. The amazing thing is, to most of the students in my field, the doorstep visitation is delayed by as much as three semesters, yet somehow, even after transfer credits and my unparalleled laziness I made it happen in eight short semesters.

Don't get me wrong. I haven't always been lazy. In fact, I can pinpoint the exact moment I was infected by the laziness bug. Prior to spring break, 1998, I was an incredibly diligent student, turning all of my assignments on time, and with a reasonably high percentage of correctitude. The problem is, my brain never ended that week of academic freedom.

When I returned to school the following week, I didn't feel like doing anything, and didn't. It really didn't matter; school was almost overwith anyway. Then my final year of high school rolled around. Recalling how satisfying my final weeks of the previous year were, I adopted the same exact technique for the entire '98-'99 academic year.

Glorious, it was. I dropped Calculus halfway through the year, since I didn't really need it to comply with the state's rigorous math proficiency standards, and became an aide for a Spanish I class, which just happened to be the 5th-hour home for just about all the Juniors whom I regarded with any esteem.

That sealed the "no-pain-no-problem" mentality for a long period to come.

Then came the dreaded semester of Oklahoma State. The only reason I ended up in Stillwater in the first place was that I knew I would be going to college, and I didn't think it mattered where that college education came from. I entered, desiring a degree in music performance. This, due to the lack of any other, really cool-sounding degree plans. As soon as I realised that an actual grade rode on my personal practice habits, I quickly searched for an escape from the, let's face it, practice-too-much-and-never-have-any-time-to-do-nothing world of classical saxophone performance.

Composition was the answer, and, as had been affirmed earlier, I had the ability to compose. Couple that with O-State's apparent lack of a composition program and OU's nearby and comprehensive music facility and bam; I was outta there.

In making the transfer happen, not once did I pick up a telephone. All correspondence was done either over the internet, or via e-mail. I did a little verification that I could in fact be admitted to the school as a composer, and that, while composers were still required to enroll in studio time with an instrumental professor, the level of proficiency required was nowhere near as stringent as for performance majors.

All that, basically to say that education has been my life longer than I am able to clearly and properly recollect. And now I'm reaching the end of that era in my life at terminal velocity.

While going to class every day for what seems like an eternity at times may seem like it's getting you nowhere, there is a sense of security in the process. For three and a half years, you need not worry about where you'll be in the coming months, for it is already answered: right here, going to class and doing homework.

Whereas, now, I have no idea where I'll be this time next year. Not the slightest clue. There are a few possibilities, but none concrete enough to formulate preliminary plans.

What's probly going to happen is, I'll be forced to get an actual job, that has absolutely nothing to do with the degree I've spent the past four years to obtain.

Let's just hope that the mere existence of a diploma from an major university in my possession helps me land employment that I cannot currently obtain.

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