Think Things Through

Did you hear the story about the college student who called in a bomb scare to thwart graduation ceremonies at her school, because she was NOT graduating and couldn’t tell her parents? This actually happened…and at my alma mater – Quinnipiac, the University – no less.

It was 5:30 on a Monday morning when I first saw the headline roll across the TV screen. I pressed pause on the Stairmaster, squinting just to make sure I had saw what I think I had just seen – Quinnipiac University Bomb Threat Spoils Graduation Ceremony.

My heart sank as I began to think, was another school-related massacre actually happening??? My thoughts and emotions immediately went to all of the graduating seniors, who had worked so hard to earn their degrees. Who had already accomplished so much during their time at the Q. Who (I’m sure) were both eager and anxious over the opportunities that awaited them beyond Quinnipiac.

It wasn’t until I learned the bomb scare was a hoax that my mind stopped racing. That’s when I turned my attention to the culprit, and filed her actions in my You’ve got to be kidding me category. As I read the reports, I found that the student was not participating in graduation ceremonies because she was not eligible for graduation. Of course she wasn’t! She didn’t have the critical thinking skills (and several other life lessons, apparently) that most students learn via the college experience. Suffice it to say, she was not equipped to graduate.

But, let’s put ourselves in her shoes, for a moment – Graduation is here. You’re NOT graduating, and have not been enrolled in your college for two years. (That in-and-of-itself would prompt most of us to come forward with the truth, but let’s say you just cannot tell your parents.) Over the past couple of years, mom has given you thousands of dollars to pay tuition, housing, books, and other necessary expenses. You’ve essentially been living a lie. But there mom is, wearing a smile as big as you can remember. Ready to cheer you on as you walk across that stage and receive your diploma. You can’t face her, or anyone else in your family, for that matter. The lies you’ve told. The money you’ve wasted. The time you cannot get back. Your world feels like it’s beginning to crumble and you panic!

How many of us have not been there? In a predicament that is waaaaay beyond our control, with everything getting worse and nothing you can do to make it better. What’s the recourse? One idea (that you learn from the college experience, and going through bouts with hardships and adversity, and developing a work ethic) is to think things through – Do you continue on with the charade? Come up with even more lies, just to cover your original ones? If so, how big of a lie would you be willing to tell? Call in a bomb scare, really? Let’s just say your plan works, and graduation never happens. What would cancelling the graduating actually accomplish? Perhaps you wouldn’t have to explain to your family why you didn’t participate in graduation ceremonies, on that day…but then what? What about tomorrow? Or the week after? Or the month after that? (Not to mention all of your classmates your hoax affected, who would not participate in graduation and the families that came to see their accomplishments!) You would, at some point, have to face your family, and the lies you’ve told, money you’ve wasted, and time you’ve spent. You would still have to account for your actions. It’s not as if stopping graduation would absolve you from your transgressions. Those don’t go away with telling even bigger lies.

I bet she never imagined herself getting arrested. I bet she never imagined that her mom would have to post her bail. I bet she never imagined having to explain why she decided to call in a bomb scare, just because she wasn’t going to graduate. But, let’s not stop there – fast forward several years. Could this mishap affect her chances of ever getting a degree from Quinnipiac, or getting a job, or how she’ll be viewed – not as someone who took longer than expected to finish college; but rather, as someone who called in a bomb scare to thwart her college graduation. Yes, yes, and yes.

All because she was in a predicament that felt way beyond her control, and didn’t know how to handle it. But that’s exactly what the college experience was supposed to prepare her for. I guess it’s too late to say, Welcome to college life.

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