Early yesterday morning in Quincy House 611, the conversation turned--as it has so many times during the past few weeks--to the Big Question facing the 1600-odd members of the Class of '83:
Where will we be next year and the rest of our lives?
Kevin, a 22-year-old California native who plans either to teach English in Switzerland or to enroll in a cooking school on the West Coast, was in the midst of keyboarding a literature paper.
Bill, who turned in nine bids to Harvard's placement office and only got one interview, was busy finishing up a take home final.
And Alex, who just turned 22 and can't figure out what's so holy about Harvard Law School, was just restless and unable to sleep.
Like many other seniors, Bill, Alex, and Kevin have been distracted lately from their reading period duties by the nagging realization that the Harvard holiday is just about over.
The real world, with its double-digit unemployment and double-digit inflation rates, beckons--at least for those who have decided to pass up the detour through graduate school.
The deadlines for internships and entry level positions in the public and private sectors are fast approaching, but Bill, Alex, and Kevin, along with many of their classmates, have yet to make even a tentative final decision.
So in the interest of calming the collective emotions of the Class of '83, the Crimson has devised a short exercise that may help convince some seniors that they have at least a muddled view of the future.
If you can match the faces on this page--from the Harvard Class of '56 25th anniversary report--with the encapsulized summaries of their lives, you can probably eventually figure out where a Harvard degree may take you.
The alumni of '56 include a cattle rancher, the chairman of Saks Fifth Avenue, a philosopher, professors, the director of the National Gallery of Art, a priest, a librarian, a lumber wholesaler, an ambassador, a television correspondent, an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency, a state senator, a pathologist, a househusband, a pilot, a salesman of women's shoes, and a mediator of environmental disputes.
Even if seniors don't accept the Class of 56's philosopher's prediction that "it is very likely that there will be nuclear war on a worldwide scale in our lifetime," there are a lot of career choices to made in the time remaining.
Maybe there are too many choices, as Thomas L. Mattson '56 noted in a message to his classmates.
"One of the problems--perhaps with formal education per se--may be that Harvard takes a student to the point where he (or she) comprehends so many possibilities that persistence in a given enterprise may come to seem narrow," Mattson suggested.
"That is perhaps preeminently the Harvard risk."