Time and Change… Founders Day at The Ohio State University

Andy receives his college diploma

Andy receives his B.S. from Dean Bobby Moser, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011.

September 17th marked the anniversary of the first day of classes at The Ohio State University. I am very proud to have earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from OSU earlier this fall, completing a degree I started over a decade ago (I spent nine years working between the first two years of school and the last year).

I loved my Ohio State experience so much that I didn’t skip a beat between Commencement and starting Graduate School… In fact, the current academic term marks my seventh straight quarter, including summers, since I started back in Spring, 2010.

Ohio State is a magical place. It’s where I created some of the most important, most treasured, and most influential relationships in my life. It’s where I found my professional calling. It’s where I spent a few nights out way past my bedtime, and where I lost my voice more than once cheering on the Buckeyes (both in football and basketball).

Our Alma Matter, Carmen Ohio, is one of my favorite songs, and I love that our University sings the song frequently, and alumni almost universally know the words by heart. One of my favorite lines holds that Time and Change Will Surely Show, How Firm Thy Friendship O-HI-O.

Time and Change… Those three simple words embody one of the most powerful concepts I’ve taken from Carmen Ohio over the years. In essence, some things change, but the most important things remain. Our circumstances are transitory, but those relationships and principles that ground us are bedrock.

Ohio State, as it is, has changed¬†significantly¬†over the past 138 years since that first day of classes. On that September day, 24 students matriculated. This year, over 7,000 new freshmen descended on our gorgeous Columbus campus. The campus itself has evolved in seemingly innumerable ways in just the decade since I’ve been formally involved with the university.

And yet, it is still Ohio State, and it is still one of the most important Land-grant Universities in the country. As Gordon Gee says, OSU is the economic engine in our state, with groundbreaking research, teaching, and outreach efforts touching every industry in Ohio, from agriculture to the petrochemical sector.

While I’ve made much of my passion for Ohio State, let me pause to say that OSU is not the only place in the world that can engender some of the types of emotions I’ve shared. In fact, I joined my fiance Miranda earlier this year for her college class reunion.

The concept of a class reunion for college was foreign to me, given that Ohio State graduates literally tens of thousands of students in any given year. Miranda graduated from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Penn., a very prestigious liberal arts school in a beautiful, historic Civil War town. We spent a few days in Carlisle for Dickinson’s alumni weekend, and I was impressed with the school and its campus.

Meeting her friends, interacting with the faculty, and listening to their stories, it was easy to see the pros and cons of studying at a small, private college versus my own choice to attend a large, public university. The opportunities and lifestyle of one is significantly different from the other; neither is “better” than the other, in my mind, and each serves a purpose and “fits” different students.

As the Beach Boys said, “Be True to Your School.” College is an important part of life, but I firmly believe that it is unnecessary for every one of us to attend a traditional four-year institution. In fact, I did quite well in life for a decade without an education. I never felt like the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz without my diploma, but I was certainly excited to have earned one this year.

The important thing is to understand what college is, and what it isn’t, and the advantages and disadvantages of enrolling. Some of the most important experiences happen outside of the classroom, and those lessons are hard to replicate elsewhere.

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About Andy Vance

Grains and Biofuels Editor at Feedstuffs, the weekly newspaper for agribusiness, and resident blogger at BeefProducer.com. If the pen is truly mightier than the sword, I may be the most dangerous man I know...

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