Grad Fest offers tips to seniors

by Joe Carlson

The beginning of the end arrived for about 3,200 University seniors Wednesday and Thursday as they strolled the maroon and gold isles of vendors and prospective employers in Grad Fest ’97.
Holly Hilden, who is graduating this spring with a degree in Scandinavian studies, searched the rainbow display of tassels for a white one corresponding to the College of Liberal Arts. But she is not planning on going through commencement.
“I just need it … to take a picture to make my mom happy,” she said
Grad Fest, which took place this year in the Coffman Memorial Union Great Hall, gathered representatives from 50 companies and services of interest to graduating seniors.
“It’s your one-step source for graduation information, services and products,” said Kari Weilding, event coordinator for Grad Fest. Among the exhibits this year are Apple Computer, Apartment Search and CLA Career Counseling and Consulting Services.
Although the event, which is in its fourth year, is a convenience for future graduates, for many it is one of the first reminders that their college years are about to come to an end.
“It’s kind of scary,” Hilden said. “You know that you’re not going to be in this safe institution anymore.”
At Grad Fest, seniors can do their exit interviews for financial aid and get information about how to pay it all back.
One tip of the financial aid presentation was to pay no more than 20 percent of total income to monthly debts. Also, students were urged to search for credit card companies that offer lower interest rates than the average, which is currently about 18 percent.
Stan O’Daffer, who is graduating with a degree in ecology, evolution and behavior in the spring, sat through a presentation about how to cope with student loans and credit card debt.
He said that although his education at the University was valuable, the process of getting money to pay for it was complicated and laborious.
“Any student who has financial aid knows the meaning of the word bureaucracy,” O’Daffer said. But he did note that, “a lot of it is not the University, it’s the federal government.”
However, post-graduate financial concerns are not the only abrupt realization students were starting to face at Grad Fest. O’Daffer has also started to examine his overall experience at the University.
O’Daffer said that looking back on his University experience, he wished that someone had stressed to him the importance of good academic performance during the first year of college.
“Your senior year should be your blow-off year, but I’ve kind of had the reverse of that,” to make up for a slow start in his freshman year, he said.
Hilden said freshmen should also be aware of the high level of independence required to acquire a University education.
“You’re really on your own,” she said. “It’s really different than a private college … You have to know exactly what you’re doing, and you don’t realize that as a freshman.”
Nevertheless, both O’Daffer and Hilden said they made the right choice in going to the University and will be happy with their education after everything is said and done. But for the time being, neither one was planning to go on to graduate school.
“I think I got a really good general education in CLA,” she said. “Hopefully, I’m ready to get out there now.”