A funny thing happens on the way to growing up — a lot of years go by. One day you’re walking around the lakes, trying to figure out how you’ll fit into the real world, and the next thing you know you’ve got kids of your own facing the same dilemma. In between is a blur of living—dating, marriage and children, careers, housekeeping and all manner of callings, demands and responsibilities. So pretty soon, instead of trying to figure out how you’ll fit into the real world, you realize you already have.
One of the many good things about working here at Notre Dame Magazine is that the six of us have been together long enough to have gone through a lot of life together—not exactly like family or best friends, but close. We’ve ridden some crests and troughs, experienced life’s ebbs and flows. But we’ve never forgotten those first years out—that period, right after college, in which the dreams, ideals and aspirations meet reality head on.
That’s what the cover package for this issue is all about: Notre Dame grads getting welcomed to the real world and discovering some things their parents hadn’t warned them about—things like finding the right partner, or what life is like when you enter (with the chosen one) that joint venture called wedlock. Or when jobs aren’t what you want them to be. Or when life in the big city isn’t so glamorous. Or when your college buddies scatter, or you hit the wall, having gone from super-achieving, fast-rising star to temp service worker just trying to make it day to day. Or when security and status hinge on your performance in a bathtub race.
Doing a cover package on this phase of life seems especially appropriate these days. The typical alum is not the guy editors imagined when the magazine started. Some 26 percent of Notre Dame’s alumni/ae graduated in the past 10 years, 40 percent in the past 15. About 25 percent of all graduates are women.
One of the most gratifying aspects of this group of stories is that we’ve known the authors since they were students. They were magazine interns. They were in classes we taught. They wrote for Scholastic and The Observer. And now, here they are, find writers and a cartoonist, good people offering insights, honesty and humor, documenting their transition from college student to citizen of real-world America.
It is no coincidence that in this issue we also honor the staging area, the point of embarkation, the launching pad—the Camelot called Notre Dame—by offering a list of things that make Notre Dame so great, a compilation of people, traits, practices and idiosyncracies that make this University so comforting and so special. At the end of that list is one of the most essential ingredients—a tribute to the lifelong friendships first forged here by students on the verge of adulthood, trying to figure out just how they’d fit into the real world.
One way is through service; about 10 percent of today’s grads do volunteer work after graduation and many others make it a job. A glimpse into the reality of that world can be found in Perspectives.