The Best Essay I Have Ever Read on Being in College

And it’s not by me in spite of what you read above. It was written by a young man, John Robert Benjamin, who has since gone on to get degrees at Georgetown and now M.I.T. There are only a few essays or books that I reread. Too many other new things pile up beside me, and I can’t keep up. But I have returned to this essay over and over and have sent it along to friends. At the beginning of a new school year, I want to share it with you.

College Life

The following is taken from a speech given in Charlottesville on March 14th, 2012, to an audience of students and alumni from the University of Virginia. The speech is a reflection on the passing of four years of college and a contemplation of the ways in which that time mirrors the passage of the phases of a lifetime.

Another spring … another spring approaches us, and again it is signaled by the same signs. Afternoon classrooms are getting warm again, musty in the dusk heat, and again they’re visited by our yearly guests: high school seniors, those future college kids and potential Cavaliers. Their presence here is one of many nods that another year at Virginia is rounding the corner, approaching its final turn, again sprinting to its finish. But the sudden onset of spring this year has been an especially bittersweet occasion given that it marks my last season at the University of Virginia. After what seemed like an invincible, endless string of days and nights, I know now that I have seen more sunsets here than I will see. Gabriel García Márquez crafted a memorable phrase for the last phase of a man’s life; he called it, “the autumn of the patriarch.” And that’s where I and the rest of my class find ourselves now in our college lives. Our autumn in springtime. Our leaves budding just as they fall. We patriarchs at twenty-two.

Read the rest of it here.

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