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The Bittersweetness Of Graduating Early

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

I graduate in less than a week and it still hasn’t hit me yet. This will be my third time walking the stage at the Siegel Center. The first two times I graduated in high school with an associate’s degree in one hand and a high school diploma in the other. When I completed my dual-enrollment program in high school, my only thought was to go faster in finishing my second degree. Now, I’m kinda wishing that time could stand still for a moment. 

When I started college two years ago, I had an image of what these defining years would look like. Now that I’m only days away from graduation it’s safe to say that college presented a different look for me. I didn’t exactly reach all the milestones and defining moments that one experiences in college and that movies make plots about, but it didn’t project me into some crisis like I thought it would. I started my freshman year of college on a mission to rectify all the missed opportunities I didn’t experience in high school. Now that I’m 20, I’ve concluded that it’s not that serious. In the most simple of words. 

And even though graduate school is in my post-graduation plans, I know that it won’t be the same as it was in undergrad. The bittersweetness behind graduating early is having an appreciation and gratitude for the fact that I get to finish early and save a ton of money. But it also leaves behind this feeling of regret and longing that I won’t get two more extra years to meet all the people I could meet and do all the things that I could do. I won’t have that safety net of being an undergrad and figuring out what I wanna do with my life when the time is now. 

While there are some regrets that I didn’t do all the things I wanted to as an undergrad, there were some positives. The person I was two years ago is not the same one writing this article. College gave me the short-lived experience of a level of freedom that I will not have again for a long time. I got to experience the ugly and good of dorm life at VCU. I got to come to terms with what I want to do with the rest of my life. I rekindled old hobbies that I thought left me a long time ago. I took the time to realize that while I am graduating early, I am still so young. It’s easy to get caught up in the sadness and bitterness behind leaving college to realize that there’s still so much life ahead of me. I’m only 20 and yet I act like I’m already knee-deep in my retirement plan.

And I know that if I decided to stay another year, I would have regretted not taking the opportunity to graduate early. Either way, I’m only going to look back on these years with nostalgia when I’m in my 30s and reminiscing on how easier everything was when I was 19 and figuring out everything. 

Tasnia Zakir (she/her) is a psychology major at VCU and part of the editorial team at VCU's HerCampus. Her interests include pop culture, film, mental health, and literature.