Senior Letters: Brad Smith, Columnist

The Gettysburgian celebrated the graduation of several writers and editors this spring.       Photo courtesy of


By Brad Smith, Columnist

Over the past three years I’ve written around 50 columns for The Gettysburgian, predominantly about politics and sports. This will be my last one and I thought I’d spare you another round of liberal rambling. For my last column I’d love to pass along profound wisdom and advice for the graduating seniors and guidance for the underclassmen who will be preparing for their own commencement sooner than they realize. Unfortunately, I don’t really think I’m qualified, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.

For all the seniors who don’t know what they are doing post-graduation: relax. First of all, virtually every senior I talk to is in the same situation. You have plenty of time to figure out what you’re going to do in life. You’re still graduating with a degree from Gettysburg College – you won’t end up working the night shift at Turkey Hill. If Gettysburg graduates are half as smart as the college administration tells us we are, then we are truly destined to go on to do great things. And while Gettysburg tells us to “Do Great Work,” I’d like to share some words that Charlie Wheelan wrote for the Wall Street Journal earlier this week: “Don’t try to be great. Being great involves luck and other circumstances beyond your control. The less you think about being great, the more likely it is to happen. And if it doesn’t, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being solid.” (I highly recommend reading his entire article, titled “What They Don’t Tell You at Graduation.”)

Because I’m a senior myself, I can’t really offer much more advice to those graduating. But to those who are fortunate enough to continue your college experience next year: make the most of it. College is as much about cultivating relationships as it is about what goes on in the classroom. Striking a balance between an excess and deficiency of work and play is essential. I’m not sure if anyone at Gettysburg really suffers from a deficiency of taking some time to enjoy themselves, but if anyone is reading this on the third floor of the library and rarely emerges from there, I encourage you to let loose a little bit. And, the kids who aren’t reading this because they’re drunk at 2 p.m. on a Thursday maybe should pick up a book.

While you should definitely take some time to enjoy yourself – whether that’s by drinking or by playing Frisbee on the quad – please also try to do your readings for class (or at least skim it). Not only will your own education be enhanced, but you will actually be able to contribute in class – making it much more bearable than when the professor has to pull teeth to spark discussion. As a top liberal arts school, we should embrace a communal learning atmosphere. I promise just a little preparation will make everyone’s class time infinitely better.

Don’t be hesitant to take some time to talk with your professors. I didn’t love everything about Gettysburg College, but the faculty was by far my favorite aspect. The Servo and Bullet staff are equally worthy of getting to know.

Everyone’s Gettysburg experience will be what they make of it. Thankfully we have selective memories which create a sort of nostalgia that generally allows us to remember only the good times. I know I have plenty of good times to remember, and I hope all of you do too.

Thanks to everyone (all three of you) who have read my column over the past few years. I often wish I could have devoted more time to the articles I wrote, but the feelings I conveyed were genuine. I hope I was at least able to draw some attention to topics that I felt were important. It’s been fun, but I’m out.

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Author: Jennifer Kiebach

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