Yesterday I went to pick up my honors cords for graduation and let me tell you, it is such a different experience getting honors cords for college than for being in the top 10% of your high school class. I went to a smallish sort of high school, where the fact that I was in the top 10% didn't seem to necessarily mean much. But when you go to pick up honors cords for the highest (out of three) academic recognition (based on GPA), that's something.
At ASU, honors cords are maroon, gold, or both. I knew which I was getting, but it was still an unbeatable moment when the person at the office handed me my summa cum laude cords (yes, this is based on my GPA as of last semester, so it's subject to change on my diploma depending on the grades I get this semester--but I don't think I'm doing any worse than usual this semester). Instead of putting them away immediately, I had to hold them for a minute while I walked out of the building, stroking the bright yellow and red. Then I started walking around campus thinking, I've conquered!
I walked down Palm Walk beaming, looking at all the familiar sights from the last four years. I was seventeen when I first started walking this campus; now, years later, it seems that not so little has changed until I take the time to think about what I have learned and what I have achieved since then. I am still young and I still know nothing, but I have done a bit more and realized a bit more than I had back then.
High school graduation is just something you do (that is, it was for me). But college graduation (I'm only going to the honors college convocation, by the way) is different. It means success and it means the end of an era. I'm not going to graduate school: this is it. So I've tried to make the most of these four years and judging by those honors cords, I think I've succeeded.
(Oh, and on Friday I defend my honors thesis--should I be nervous or excited?)