Commencement.   noun.  1. A beginning or start: “at the commencement of training”.

Really?  My parents just spent $80,000.  I have 20,000 of loan debt.

Well, Caitlin…yes.

You guided me to do this, you know. 

Yes.  I know.

I’m addicted to Ramen Soup and I’ve gained 20 pounds.  Just to get back to the beginning?



Not ‘back’.  You never were at the beginning.

Four years ago, your longest trip from home was Des Moines, you thought MC Escher was a rapper from the early 90’s, you had never worked a day (paid or otherwise) in your profession of choice, had only spoken for an hour with anyone from that profession, had never met Dr. Jones or Professor DeAngelo, nor built your professional network, and your most marketable diploma was from high school.  And you had never met Hank.

But, is that worth all that money?  I mean, other than Hank.

Oh, I can quote you the “college graduates earn a million dollars more than high school graduates” statistic.  And that’s the simplest argument.  But how can I put a price on your Spring Break experience in Haiti…

Or the Spring Break in Cancun?

I already mentioned Hank.

Oh, yeah…

Or the internship with Linkedin?  Or the connections you’ve made with your sisters at Tri Delta?  You have friends – and references – for life.  Or the lectures and conversations with Dr. Jones and Professor DeAngelo?  Or the trip to the MOMA?

You learned how to write a business plan, develop an actual thesis, paint, do laundry, slide a lunch tray down a hill in the snow and argue your case in a persuasive, articulate, proper manner.  You learned not to leave the flame unattended when making Ramen Soup or it will spill over. (at least when it’s on high)

You engaged in conversations, in and out of the classroom that shaped who you are, what you do, how you do it and what you value and treasure.   And you gained all that in the most amazing lab ever created – the American College campus.

So, didn’t that get me somewhere?

Yes, to the beginning.  It gave you a road map, comfortable shoes, the ability to spot danger and the phone numbers of people to call in an emergency.

And the total retail value on all of those gifts is priceless.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions.  Please feel free to email me at, call or text me at 908-403-3819, join me on Facebook on “College Counseling for the Rest of Usand join me on Twitter at @MichaelCCR.   And now on YouTube at