The Bittersweet Life of a Graduating Senior

Senior year. What can I say? It’s completely different from every other year of schooling you’ve ever had. It has higher highs than you’ve ever felt, that go along with the terrifying lows you’ve never had to deal with before. Being someone who was always taught to eat my veggies before dessert (thanks Mom), I’m going to start with why it really is terrifying to be a senior sometimes.

 

First, you have to be an adult. Yes, I know we all grow up wanting to be older. But what we really want is the freedom to do whatever we want without people telling us no, and without telling us we have to do real adult things. Well senior year, you actually are forced to do the boring part of being an adult, like all the damn time.

 

The first thing you have to put up with are the hundreds of people that will ask you “so what are you doing after graduation?” If you’re one of those kids who already have a job lined up from your summer internship the year before, first screw you, but also congrats. Because no matter how much the rest of us hate you for it, we’re all just jealous that our lives aren’t as put together yet. The reason why this question is so terrifying most of the time is that most of the senior student body is actively working on their future plans, whether it be applying to graduate schools/professional schools or applying to jobs or making the decision to take a gap year. So as natural as it is to want to ask seniors what they’re up to the next year, between the months of October - April, be ready to deal with terrifying looks as students will be waiting on pins and needles to hear about the next part of their future life.

 

 

Second, we have to deal with those people who… are a bit too public with how proud they are of their accomplishments; we all know these people. First off, there’s nothing wrong with being proud of your accomplishments. We all work very hard to move forward in our lives, so it’s only natural that you want to let everyone else know when things have gone well. HOWEVER, as happy as we are for you to have gotten job offers, or interviews, or acceptances into grad schools, we only care so much. It’s hard sometimes to see your friends being more successful than you. It will lead you to draw comparisons that just aren’t fair, and most of the time you end up resenting that other person for their happiness. The important thing to remember is that your time will come. No matter what happens, try your best to stay positive and eventually your patience will pay off.

 

Finally, I’ve realized I’m not a fan of taxes. When the crew of drillers going to save the world on Armageddon asked for no taxes for the rest of their lives for saving the planet, I didn’t realize how amazing that would be until my parents sat me down to show me how much the government would be taking from me in taxes. I know compared to people that have real jobs, I’m not getting much taken from me, but I’m still salty about it so whatever.

 

Now for dessert.

 

The first amazing thing about being a senior is that you kinda feel like a badass, but you deserve it. You have wisdom about campus and about student life that the rest of the student body may not have. You know when and where you should/should not go out. You know which professors to avoid and which classes you saved as easy A’s for your senior year. Most importantly, you hopefully have collected a strong group of friends with which to celebrate your last year of college.

 

Secondly, senior classes (at least for me) are very different. I can only speak for LSA biology majors but there is a way to structure your classes so that your last year is fairly easy going. If you can, you should absolutely take all of the required lower level classes (300 and below) so that your senior year is left for the upper level electives. From my experience, having upper level electives is great because it gives you the opportunity to explore various interesting topics without the burden of exams. Pretty much all of my friends know that my last semester at Michigan has been free of exams. This is large in part due to me only having one real class (which is amazing) but also because these upper level electives are built on project grades and weekly quizzes over more weighted exam grades. Third, this is conversely related to one of the problems of having to be an adult, but one amazing thing about senior year comes when you finally realize your future plans! Yes, it’s terrifying, but I promise, when you finally send that letter of acceptance and your future is secured, the burden being lifted from your shoulders feels amazing. Finally, the last amazing part of being a senior is that everything you do you know is for the last time so you appreciate it that much more. Walking into the Big House for my last home game, going to formals, hanging out with friends, and everything else that comes with being a student brings so many emotions throughout the whole year that sometimes you just want to stop and take some time to soak it all in. Having talked with some friends who have graduated over the past few years, they all agree that your final year at Michigan is the most important.

Photos courtesy of studentlife.umich.edu.