Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Washington chapter.

If I were to sum up my thoughts on graduating college in one word, it would be “bittersweet”: an oxymoron that perfectly encapsulates my simultaneous reluctance and anticipation at moving on.

I graduated high school and started college in 2020. There were no ambiguous feelings about this transition: I was ready to continue forward. I was ready to move to a new city in a new state, and experience all the change that came along with that. I will never be sure if this was a result of the coronavirus pandemic, where the days felt muddled and repetitive, or if this need for change is how every high school senior feels. But my thoughts on this new chapter were clear. I loved touring the University of Washington campus; I loved exploring the city of Seattle; I was more than ready to be a Husky.

After graduating this June, I am moving to another new city in another new state, and the feeling of fear is creeping in ever so subtly. What is particularly jarring about this is that my reaction feels foreign. I have always been the kind of girl who faces new experiences head-on. Even when I solidified my post-graduate plans a few months ago, what I felt was nothing short of pure excitement. Then spring quarter began and it hit me all at once: these are my last few weeks of school, possibly ever. When reflecting on my change in reaction, it made me realize just how formative my college experience was.

Before I started at UW, I created expectations surrounding this notion of the “college experience.” The months leading up to the pandemic, I watched every kind of college vlog on YouTube: dorm shopping and hauls, freshman orientation, move-in, dorm tours, sorority rush, you name it. I had a romanticized idea of the next four years, and in a cruel bit of irony, my experience became untraditional in every sense of the word, as I spent my freshman year at Zoom University. But despite attending college remotely, my first year was pretty great: as this was the year I moved to Seattle, the year I met some of my best friends, the year I came out, and the year I decided on my major and career path. I’m not going to lie and say, “I wouldn’t change anything.” Because the coronavirus pandemic was awful, and it’s particularly foolish to pretend otherwise. But it was everything I could have asked for considering the circumstances, regardless of not fitting within the “college experience” mold. 

So when campus opened back up the following school year, I realized that my college experience was what I made of it. And by holding onto that mindset, I learned so much about myself at UW. This is true in an academic sense: solidifying my specific academic interests within my major and becoming a stronger, more well-rounded student. And this is true in a non-academic sense: understanding what commitments are most important to me, and learning how to allocate my time to reflect that.

Despite the influx of emotions, I can confidently guess that I will view college as one small chapter of my life. Change can be scary, but change can also be healthy: allowing us to evolve to our full potential by testing us time and time again. I will miss the University of Washington, but tremendously thankful for everything this school has given me.

Annie Melnick

Washington '24

Annie is the Senior Editor for Her Campus UW, majoring in English with a minor in Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies. She is originally from Los Angeles, and is a self-described bookworm, reality competition show superfan, and coffee connoisseur, among other things.