THIS is the time of year when crowds of restless graduates must sit through commencement addresses exhorting them to hard work and diligence, and assuring them that an eager world is awaiting their talents and ideas and industry. There are, of course, a few shocks awaiting them out there; just wait till they find out the rent of a modest little apartment in New York City, for example.
But by and large, the new crop of workers is being deposited into a society that is upbeat and confident.
Some Washington columnists keep writing about all the problems the nation and the administration face -- and indeed, nobody should gloss over the injustices and hardships that exist.
But the American public seems to think that there is a fair amount of good abroad as well.
As Allen Neuharth, the media mogul who runs the Gannett Company, said recently in a speech, people want to hear about the good as well as the bad, the glad as well as the sad.
Most in the media, he said, love failures and funerals; they ``do not get enthusiastic about births or successes.'' He suggested that editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post ``have built their reputations on spotlighting problems -- real or imagined; not solutions.''
Whatever the accuracy of Neuharth's deductions, the public seems to have discounted the soothsayers of doom, and, whether by seat-of-the-pants intuition or what, concluded that there is hope for us.
The stock market, that barometer of advance economic thinking, has been showing some new gains after slithering and slipping sideways.
In the dominating international confrontation -- between the United States and the Soviet Union -- there is a little less tension. Yelena Bonner says her husband, Andrei Sakharov, thinks the world is further away from war than it has been in a long time.
Meanwhile, there are continuing droplets of hope. The Soviets say they will let out of their country those people who daringly married American citizens. Mr. Reagan has decided to hold America's nuclear submarine strength at the SALT II level. Both Washington and Moscow may be reinvigorated by the Chernobyl accident in their quest for an arms control agreement.
Then there is President Reagan, in whom Americans are exhibiting so much confidence that it is making his pollsters anxious.
More than 70 percent of the country thinks he's doing a good job. His support among young people bobs around an astonishing 79 percent.
As adjudged by some of the Ivy League professors, Mr. Reagan is no intellectual, and as adjudged by almost anyone, he is certainly capable of making mistakes. But as adjudged by most of the voters, his confidence in the goodness of mankind and the virtues of America strike a chord to which they respond with a strong chorus of approval.
This is a President with a can-do image, following a Carter administration that had the country in economic gloom, projected an indecisive image abroad, and whose President at times seemed to be urging his people to a kind of moral self-flagellation.
Some say President Reagan is lucky; Americans seem to like it that way.
The year 2000 is just a historical hop, skip, and jump away, and in one of this year's graduating classes some future Lee Iacocca may be dreaming through a commencement address, figuring out how to celebrate its arrival.
However mere men complicate things, the good news is that most people believe there is a future worth celebrating.