Ask A Fifth-Year: The final exam

Evan Williams

(Drawing by Annie Raccuglia)

Mr. Williams,

In 600 words or less, please describe the value of your Lawrence education and give your parting advice to the student body — at least the portion of the student body that reads The Lawrentian. This exam will determine if you graduate from Lawrence — it would be pretty hilarious if you had to do a sixth year!


President Jill Beck

We are all about to move on to the next level of our lives. For some of us, that level will keep us here at Lawrence as a sophomore, junior, senior or, of course, a fifth-year. For others, that will be graduate school, or even the workforce — good luck in this economy, saps!

For all of us, this will bring new experiences, joys and, yes, challenges. While some of us are scared out of our minds — or maybe just me — I can tell you that as a Lawrentian, you’re going to pass with flying colors.

Yes, for all of my criticism and jabs about this school, the administration and students, the truth is that I wouldn’t trade my five years here for anything — well, maybe not anything, but a lot of things. Lawrence has prepared us to be bright, conscientious and contributing members of society.

How do I know? Easy. Even if I’ve never met you, I know that you have a diversity of interests and/or knowledge about a variety of things. You may be into biology, but you’ve never lost that interest in a topic covered in Freshman Studies — Borges, anyone? Or maybe you’re a sports lover who’s attended almost every concert at the conservatory.

Whatever it is, you’ve taken classes in the natural and social sciences, the arts and humanities, and whether you enjoyed them or not, they’ve helped to shape the way you think. You probably have creative methods to solve problems in your field, or have brought other disciplines together in your studies. So even though there will be some hurdles on your journey, you have the tools to conquer them.

I know it seems cliché to write a final “you can do it” motivational speech for my last article in The Lawrentian, but I’m sure many of us are worried about what the future brings, plus, no one nominated me to give the commencement address, so I’m going to do it here — I mean, I’ve been your metaphysical guide through the Lawrence Bubble all year! Aren’t I the obvious choice?

I’m sure you know that things aren’t always going to be ‘magical happy time’ for you either. You won’t be able to hold up your Lawrence diploma as if it were the light of Eärendil when trouble comes your way — kudos to anyone who got that reference. You’ll have to work and struggle sometimes, but you have the tools to get through it.

If I can offer you one piece of advice, I’d say never be afraid to ask for help. No matter if that help is about something personal, academic or professional, it’s better to get help than try to go through something alone.

If you think about it, these last couple of weeks aren’t really the final exam. Your next exams will come in the form of interviews, jobs, auditions, spouses, partners, children — in short, life. But you’ll get through it, just remember your training. “The cave! Remember your failure in the cave!”

I hope you’ve enjoyed my weekly, mostly worthless, advice to you. I hope some future fifth-year will take up the heavy mantle of showing you the way; but if not, just remember — don’t do anything stupid.