Although graduation has parents weeping with joy, most of us don’t like to hear that a convicted biology major, communications major, or philosophy major is being released from UCF and moving back to town. But whether you believe it’s society’s job to rehabilitate dangerous ex-students or just lock them up and throw away the key, most violent ex-students inevitably will re-enroll for a masters or doctorate degree program. And the likelihood that those ex-students will succeed in becoming safe and productive members of society is often determined by their ability to find housing, jobs and a network of friends and family that can keep them out of school.
In an effort to end this epidemic and change the lives of ex-students across the country, former student Terrell Brown recently founded “NOW WHAT?”, an outreach program designed to help postgraduates adjust to life outside of college and prevent the overwhelming desire to re-enroll for another semester.
A study shows about 43 percent of convicted students released from school in 2004 were back behind desks within three years. The percentage is only slightly less than a similar period studied in 1999.
The nascent organization takes the ex-students through a series of specifically designed steps that allow them to not only accept there is more to life than attending class and getting wasted, but also be taught valuable skills like balancing a checkbook, cooking real meals or even getting a job that’ll ultimately enable them to be functioning members of society. An informative video compiled by the company puts the message through most clearly:
“If they can’t provide for their families, oftentimes, their backs end up against the wall, and they turn back to what they know. They feel there’s no other way for them to survive,” said director of H.A.G (Hire a Grad), which advocates employing lazy, inexperienced post-graduates.
Post-graduates have expressed the overwhelming benefits the center has to offer.
“Being in the joint for so long… it turns you into something different… an animal,” said Micro/Molecular Biology graduate, Daniel Johnston. “There just ain’t a lot of room for a man who knows how to isolate and make cultures of specific bacteria in today’s society. That’s why I bounty-hunt chupacabras in Mexico. It’s not the sort of career I would expect to pursue.”
Despite the pessimism, “NOW WHAT?” says that about 2,000 post-grads will be released back into Orange County this year.
“We have a lot of faith with these first groups of students we’ll be releasing,” said Brown optimistically, “but then again, I’m a graduate myself. I really don’t know what the hell I’m doing.”