For college students, May is always a bittersweet time.
Finals and Graduation are the roughest time of the year and they happen right after each other.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 19.9 million students attend college in Fall 2018 and 1.9 million bachelor’s degrees would be awarded in the U.S. That’s a lot of student debt.
“First you have to take a test for a quarter of your grade for each class you took this semester and then you get to leave college forever.”
Finishing finals was like making it to the end of the tunnel. You put yourself through a high stress situation where you had a serious chance of death, or worse failure. There was always that one project that you had underestimated (or several) and at least one moment where you had to weigh studying for one class versus another.
“I need a A- in this class to get at least a C in Stats, but the Eastern European Paper is 50% of my grade. Guess I’ll write the first and last quarter of the paper and the middle will just sort of average out.”
There is nothing more satisfying than finishing your finals and spending the next week at home just sleeping and being as lazy as physically possible. Every time after finals I’d always return home tired and sick, pushing myself insanely hard.
However, there was also this aspect that I was one year closer to getting my degree accompanied with the fact that I was one less year of college to have fun. After all the point of getting a college education was to improve yourself and better your chances of finding a worthwhile job. Yet at the same time, college is probably the time in your life where you have the most freedom.
True you will be swamped with homework and prepping for test, but unlike high school you didn’t need to be in class for 7 straight hours. Plus you were at least 18 and according to you ID you were 22. Couple that with the fact that everyone else had an excessive of amount of free time would lead to some awesome experiences. Once you go full time there’s no more of that.
And on top of using up another year of freedom, your senior friends would be gone. Moving on to pursue careers, setting down their kegs and funnels for the last time. As an underclassmen its hard to imagine what that feeling is like. No more stresses about finals and homework, only stresses about finances and being an adult. Every senior I met handled it differently, some trying to fill every second they had left by being as not sober as possible while other sat back and looked back with quiet pride.
I’m not sure exactly how any of my friends truly felt upon graduation, but for me it was a sad transition, but a necessary one. My college days were done and what I had done during them were set. I was left only with my vague memories, my degree, and my regrets. I know there was plenty of stuff I wish I did in college that I was too short-sighted to do. I ignored people that would have made good friends and I avoided a lot of events and parties because I wanted that one extra tenth of a GPA point.
Would I completely change everything that I did in college?
No. I’m glad to have met the people I met and experiences I did have.
But I do wish I truly understood how special that time in my life was and the sheer volume of opportunity presented to you. It was all there for the taking, but you had to be aware of it and make an effort to try for it. At some level, I think every college grad experiences this feeling. It’s impossible to make the right decision every time and do everything that someone knew they would like.
If you’re sad that your college days are over, understand that ending them allow you to look back and appreciate the experiences that you had. It’s difficult to see what benefits those days truly were if you’re still in college. Once you’re out it becomes apparent quite quickly and all you’re left with your experiences and your growth.
Processing the change can be as easy as a day or as long as a decade. Everyone reflects at their own speed.
So seniors feel sad for finishing your college days. It means that what you had really was special. Just don’t get too sad.