You’re Going To Change The World

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Any day now, members of the Class of 2024 will start arriving on many of America’s college campuses.

It won’t be like move-in days of years past. At a time of social distance and reduced density, of Zoom lectures and FaceTime study groups, there won’t be phalanxes of resident assistants and volunteers shouting greetings and giving high-fives; in many cases, it may not even be possible for parents to drive up, unload the car, and give their student a big farewell hug. Health and safety will require staggered move-ins, limits on visitors, and carefully choreographed unpacking.

And, in some ways, that’s a good thing. It will set the tone for how this year will go, whether on campus or via remote learning. This year will be something different, something special, something embraced by a group of brave and dedicated students. This year will give the Class of 2024 a college experience unlike any other.

These students are embarking on their college careers at an unsettled time for the country. It is a challenging moment, to be sure. But it’s also extraordinary: This is a college class that is living through history. That experience will bind the Class of 2024 together, and it will set these students up for remarkable, meaningful, productive lives. They’re jumping forward into a transforming world, and they will be ready to lead it.

These last five months have been tumultuous. For the foreseeable future, the only constant will remain profound change. Over the next four years, there will be new opportunities in health, the sciences, and government. There will be new outlooks on racial equality, social justice, immigration, and the economy. There will be new technologies, new ways of working, new ways of living. And the remarkable Class of 2024 will be ready for all of it.

When I think about all the many and changing opportunities ahead of these students, and when I think about how committed and resilient they are, I’m every bit as excited as I am at the start of each academic year, if not more so.

Every year, college changes students’ lives. This year, the incoming students will help change college, too. They’ll help us as we work to become better, fairer, and more equitable. They’ll hold us to our commitments to truly support everyone in our community.

At the same time, they’ll be changing and growing. Like all college students, they’ll learn how to think and how to examine issues. They’ll try out ideas and how to experiment with concepts. This special Class of 2024 will do all that as we’re figuring out answers to the major questions now confronting us. They’re the ones who will move us forward on public health, on social justice, and economic equality.

Over the next four years, these students will learn about themselves, learn about the world, meet new people, and try new things. They’ll try new academic subjects and pursue new extracurricular passions, even if they do so virtually. They’ll learn to be good citizens, volunteering in their communities and becoming forces for positive change. For the first time, for many of them, they’ll register, and they’ll vote.

The transition to college is always fun and exciting, even when times are challenging. It’s always a little bit scary, even in the best of times. The students starting college this fall, whether in classrooms, online, or in some combination of the two, are embarking on a unique journey. They’re choosing to move forward in the world. They’re committed, they’re dedicated, they’re hard-working, and they’re ready for this.

The Class of 2024 is going to change the world.



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