Quite often it’s seen as the most stressful time of any collegiate student’s career. People draw a lot of parallels to first coming onto campus as a freshmen and seemingly not having enough time for everything that needs to be done.
Freshman year, you’re busy unpacking, buying things you think you’ll need to survive the next 4(ish) years, meeting people, being herded around to all the different orientation events and stressing about the impending uncertainty your first semester’s worth of classes brings. At the end of your senior year, you’re busy packing, going to all sorts of awards ceremonies, dinners honoring your achievements, finishing up term papers/projects and entertaining your parents.
For many, this is the first time since being dropped off freshman year that your parents are in town. They essentially are tourists to your home. It’s a strange feeling. They don’t know the roads, the slang, they don’t know that Tuesday nights, you have a standing meeting with your friends over at Old School Pizza. You’re being dragged in 20 different directions and all you want to do is slow down and simply spend time with the friends that have become your family these last four years before you all graduate and scatter to the corners of the globe (literally though, it’ll be hard to make plans to go sailing with your buddy on the weekend when you’re in Connecticut and he’s in Dubai).
As hard as it might be, I recommend you never lose sight of the end of the semester. It’s easy to get hyper-focused on the present when you’re in the hardest year of your collegiate career. You’ll have finals and all sorts of projects demanding your time, you’ll claim that you just want to “finish the semester strong” but you’re actually leaving yourself weak in other non-academic areas. Some tips I have to help ease into graduating:
- Bring half your stuff home over winter break and leave it there. Fewer things to pack will make your life so much easier down the road.
- School is important, but so is spending time with your friends. Everyone’s heard your future jobs won’t necessarily depend on what you know but who you know. Florida Tech attracts people from all across the world. I can honestly say I have friends in every part of the world now because of this school and the memories we share will mean more to us than putting in the extra mile on that extra credit assignment.
- If you have items you need to sell/get rid of before you move off to wherever you’re going, do so as soon as possible. I got lucky and was able to unload my motorcycle pretty easily, but it put a lot of undue stress on me surrounding graduation, setting up times for people to come test drive it and what not.
- Take pictures. Period. A few nicely posed photos of you and your friends will go a long way in 20 years when you all have kids and want something to look respectable in to show them rather than your 500 something selfies that make you look like an angsty teenager.
- Go to the beach. Yeah, okay, that 20-page paper might be due tomorrow at 9 a.m., but there’s something therapeutic about listening to the waves crash and watching the moon shimmer off the water, even just for a short study break. The fact that you currently live less than 10 minutes from some of the best beaches in North America should be fully taken advantage of. You’re going to miss it. I know I will.
All of a sudden, graduation will be upon you. You’ll look back on the times you and your friends thought about it, how far off it seemed. And here it now is, staring you in the face. You’ll go into Gleason for the last time, check in for graduation and then be inducted into the Alumni Association. Then when the fateful hour arrives, you’ll leave in an orderly fashion and walk to Clemente to the applause of all the faculty and staff. You’ll take your seats among your friends and under the sight of your family from the bleachers. Your name will be called and you will walk across that stage, shaking hands with the President, the provost, and your dean. You think that that might be it. It’s all over. But if there’s one thing that I’ve realized and begun to embrace, it’s that in reality, it is only the beginning.