In class, we have discussed phrase working adults often say to younger students, “Once you enter the real world…” (see cartoon below). This phrase has made us ponder, are we as students not part of the “real world”? What is the “real world”? What skills are required in the “real world”? In my attempt to understand what the “real world” is, I remembered an idea we studied in Anthropology 101 which was “liminality”.During a liminal period, members of society are taken out of daily life, defy social norms, then re-enter society having gone through the rites of passage required by that society. How does this idea relate to school? Specifically, it is often expected in our society to earn some degree of higher education. During this time of learning new skills needed in order to enter the workforce, students are in a liminal phase. During college, students often defy social norms and expected behavior. For example, it is unacceptable for an employee to miss work often; however, I know other students who consistently skip class. But once those students enter the workforce, they are at work everyday on-time.
Attending college is also a liminal phase because students are not, in many cases, financially independent. As a student, I am learning multivariable calculus, but I have no idea how to do taxes, which is a requirement once I “re-enter” society. It is a rite of passage that I attend college, and I will be accepted by my peers and into the workforce once I receive my degree and gain financial independence.
Overall the “real world” I would define as financially independent members of society in the workforce, while students are in a liminal period, which is transient yet required.
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