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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

An early graduation was barely on my radar when I was entering my junior year of college. I had gone through a shortened freshman year because of Covid, and I took my sophomore year of classes at home through community college. I felt like I barely had any college experience, and I had two more years to cram it in. 

My best friend, and roommate, found out that because of high school transfer credits, she was an entire year ahead of schedule. I knew I had AP credits, and I also knew I was only one gen Ed course away from being completed with the requirements.

When it came to thinking about my own graduation potential, I figured, “I’ll just check.”

Checking turned into researching requirements, which led to discovering that my like my best friend, I would be completely done with all of my required coursework by the end of my junior year. In the moment, I became excited. I would be able to walk the graduation stage next to my best friend. I would be able to save money. I would have a family proud of the progress I made. I would have an extra year to be exploratory. It was fool proof. Until it wasn’t.

Now, I am in my second semester of my junior year. My paperwork is filled out, and my classes have been chosen and I have registered for the final summer courses I needed. This is my last chance at experiencing college, and there are only a few months remaining. I am unsure of the direction I will head after school is over, but I know I will be one degree more advanced. I am hoping to squeeze in a trip abroad- hopefully to teach in Africa- for the summer to fulfill the travel study goal. I realized that the unexpected deadline I put upon myself is stressful, yes, but it also is forcing me into participation in ways I wouldn’t have imagined. I have been taking every opportunity sent my way. I have been writing more intently than I ever had before. I am exploring clubs and involving myself in events I may have otherwise walked past. I am playing every sport I can physically manage- currently in  the excitement of joining both a soccer team and ice hockey league. I am seeking discomfort to get the most out of the time I have left. I am appreciating my friends, even during the small trips to the dining hall in between classes. I’m making each moment a memory. Even the stress of assignments is something I’m learning to cherish because very soon I will not have it at my disposal, and I will be facing new endeavors. 

Graduating early jumps around in my mind from being a terrifying and overall negative concept to an opportunity-filled positive experience. I do know that I will continue to follow the path I see best fit, and I will allow myself the space to invent, learn, and grow. I send hugs to all other 2022 graduates because I am living first-hand that graduating is not as easy as the movies make it seem; we should walk across the graduation stage come spring with pride and eagerness for what is to come without forgetting how much we will miss the home we created at college.

Hi! My name is Alyssa Houlis, and I am a senior English major with a business minor. I have enjoyed my studies at URI for all of the opportunities I get to write and explore the lovely language that is English. I am excited to see what opportunities will present themselves once I graduate from lil' Rhody! In my free time, you will probably catch me hugging a tree, painting, or skating!
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