I graduate college in close to thirty days, which is both exciting and terrifying. It's cliche, but it's seriously so hard for me to believe that I'm a senior. I feel like I went to orientation last month, or even just declared my major a few weeks ago. But yet, here I am, sitting in the library working on my capstone project, and the days until I move away from Clinton are shorter than they are long. (Capstone classes are the highest class offered in a major; they're typically the last class you take before you graduate.) I've learned that the life of a senior is really different from that of an underclassmen, but it's not something that's talked about very often. Today, I want to invite you guys into the life of a senior, because, whether you're about to graduate high school or finish your sophomore year, you'll be here one day and I want to give you an idea of what it's like.
Last semester, in the slew of all that goes on at MC in the fall, I figured out that senior year is a solid mix of nostalgia and panic. Naturally, the panic comes in with the thoughts of post-grad, but the nostalgia comes with walking around campus, sitting in class, and, really, doing about anything else that I love about MC. I decided, early on, that I wanted to do my best to stay present with my life in Clinton. For me, that doesn't mean that I go to all the events and the like, but it means that I choose to do homework with my friends rather than alone. I pay attention in class, and I want to finish well. I enjoy the view of Nelson on these perfect Spring days. I've made a point to enjoy what has become normal, because, in a few short weeks, it won't be normal anymore, as graduation is right around the corner.
The most obvious part of being a senior is that the future is like... here. After three years of thinking about what you'll be doing after you graduate, now, all of a sudden, you have to make decisions about it. You have to decide if you want a job, to go to grad school, or to travel for a while. You have to decide where you want to live, who you want to live with, and when you'll move there. You have to decide if you want to go ahead and settle down, or if you want your living situation to be transient for a while. People ask you, almost daily, what your plans are. You ask yourself, almost hourly, what your plans are. And honestly, you'll hardly ever have it figured out, and slowly but surely, you'll learn that that's okay. It'll fall together in its time. And, after all, you have homework that needs your attention.
It's no secret that classes get harder when you're a junior and senior. Granted, every department and program is different, but, for a lot of majors, senior year is far from a walk in the park. At this point in my college career, I've learned a lot. Being at the tail-end of my major, I've acquired a set of skills that allow me to think and analyze the world in a way that I couldn't before, and then to write about it. I think it's safe for me to say that my major, English Writing, is my favorite thing about MC. This year, and specifically this semester, I've spent more hours in the library than I ever thought I would. I am working harder than freshman Ashton ever dreamed she would, and the best part is that I love what I'm doing. The work is hard, and my to-do list feels impossibly long, but I love what I'm doing so much that I hardly mind. And, after all, I have other senior friends that have to spend hours in the library, too, so I'm not doing all of this alone.
I've spent a lot of this year looking back and giving thanks for all the life that has happened in the last four years. Though being a senior is hard and sometimes it feels like a weird limbo between college and the real world, it's been my favorite year yet. My years at MC have been the most pivotal of my life, and while I'm sad to see it end, I'm also ready for what's next.
The life of a senior isn't all that glamorous, and it's definitely not the same kind of fun as the life of a freshman, but it's still great. I've loved being a senior and getting to close out my time at MC with my friends and professors and outrageously heavy backpack. My senior year has been great. My time at MC has been great. But, it's ending, and that's okay, because I feel ready to move on to whatever's next, and honestly, I think that that's the best place for a senior to be.
Good luck, friends.
Not going to grad school (yet), don't have a job (yet),
trying really hard not to move back in with my dad (yet)