Why Are Alums Who Literally Graduated Still On Campus?
Written by Youngweon Lee
We’ve all seen those alums who hang around campus despite the fact that they literally fucking graduated. We’ve had those semi-awkward conversations: “Hey! Good to see you! Didn’t you graduate, though…?” “Yeah! I’m still here though! Haha!” Bwog investigated: why do alums hang around after literally graduating?
One might be inclined to think that once we graduate and escape the stressful gaze of beloved Alma Mater, we would never want to come back to this little stressful nook in Morningside Heights. Apparently, that is not the case. Every alum standing in line at 1020 after they receive their $280k diploma, eating yet another Hungarian pastry, or smoking the millionth cigarette in front of Butler has a different reason for sticking around, and we gathered a few of these stories by awkwardly confronting alumni that we thought we’d never see again. (People who decided to go to more school at Columbia in the form of grad school of some sort don’t count. They’re obviously still here because they’re too smart and too crazy.)
The most fundamental reason that alumni come back is that they just truly love Columbia. As corny and fake as that sounds, it really is that simple and wholesome in a lot of cases. This especially holds true if they were involved in some sort of on-campus group, like a club or a fraternity/sorority. Maybe they have a boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other/partner/whatever-you-will who still goes here. It’s not like Columbia is in, say, Ithaca, NY, or some other far-off, hard-to-reach location; it’s conveniently right in Manhattan. It’s easy to take the smelly 1 train and hop off at 116th to see all their little friends, especially if they work in the city. So it’s really not that weird that they’re still here.
Some newly graduated alumni also haven’t started actually working yet, and enjoy coming back to ward off boredom. One such alumnus, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that he really realized how much he loves Columbia and Morningside Heights after graduating and being away from campus. To him, “it’s like indulging an already strong nostalgia for what [he’s] realizing was an amazing time in [his] life.” Living in the Real World™, he said he misses walking out of his dorm and running into a bunch of familiar faces; he has a lot less natural encounters now and has to make a lot more effort to see people. Now that he is a Real Adult™, it’s a lot harder to foster new friendships that are relaxed and genuine, as are relations formed at Columbia. In addition, in the professional world, most people spend most of their time with people similar to themselves; if you’re a finance bro, you’ll be with mostly other finance bros around the clock, for instance, and the same applies to if you’re a journalist, lawyer, consultant, or whatever other career paths that your Columbia degree will take you on. He appreciates that diversity of people that he was around at Columbia.
Another anonymous alum also had an interesting perspective to offer:
“I was visiting a friend – coffee at Hungarian. I was gone all summer, but I’m still a regular there as far as the waitresses are concerned. Sat at a table with the same little old Eastern European lady I saw there for four years.
It’s really the same everywhere on campus. I’m a regular. Wherever I go, I’ve got the hookup. I know a lot of people – many tangentially, just enough to wave as I pass by, but that’s something. Even the people I don’t know, I recognize.
People in the Real World are a lot more boring and well-adjusted than people at Columbia. That may be because they generally have fewer pretensions, are less sneering, have achieved a Healthier Work-Life Balance, aren’t as neurotic in their self-awareness or as self-aware of their neuroses, and don’t consider sitting in a library to be a competitive sport. Maybe it’s because they don’t know shit about the Forms.
Irony is not a way of life out there, and consequently, most people don’t seem to have much appreciation of or tolerance for it. I find, however, that without the veneer of irony, it’s more difficult and dangerous to express oneself earnestly when one actually feels earnestly about something. So, instead of conversation tending towards poles of irony or earnestness, in the Real World there’s a low and steady drone of small talk.
To be Super Fucking Sage: it’s a crazy world out there, and, for me, it’s nice to visit every once in a while to make sure I don’t get too sane.”
It’s somewhat comforting to know that even though we may be miserable and stressed now, we will look back on this time with rose-tinted nostalgia because being a real adult in the real world is that much harder. Making new friends won’t be the same, and your coworkers will be boring. Unless you work and live in the city, you won’t have the same kind of easy access to all your college friends and the opportunity to return every weekend to this “neurotic,” alcohol-soaked collegiate experience tinged with the smell of the 1020 bathroom and Amigos’ disgusting, probably poisonous margaritas. Essentially, life sucks now, especially since it’s midterm season, but it’s going to suck more later. (I’m mostly joking. The alums who graciously agreed to be awkwardly confronted by me also said life gets better after graduation in many ways. There is light at the end of the tunnel!)
Ricky, where is the Hungarian post? via Youngweon Lee
Tags: can you imagine literally having a real job and knowing what you're doing with your life lol unrelatable content, does this count as investigative journalism?, i for one would like to be a Real Adult if that means there are no more fucking midterms, peoplehop? of sorts? maybe? idk?, this doesn't really explain alums who literally just come to 1020 and hang out alone though but i'm too shy to confront any of those people, what does it feel like to not be a broke college student anymore?