Welcome to our College-in-Covid series! In this series, we pen a letter to each college class to start you off in your first semester/quarter back on campus. Good luck!
The biggest congratulations to you. You did it! You are in your last year of late-night fire alarms from residents who struggle with making a simple bowl of popcorn, and 8 am lectures that you feel exhausted attending. You’re almost there, and the finish line is certainly in sight. While college presented many obstacles, it also presented plenty of opportunities to learn from and grow. You may be dealing with mixed emotions, as I’m sure some of you are on campus and some of you, like myself, are experiencing their last year of college from home.
I can’t help but get emotional as I reminisce about my first day in college. I felt so nervous and excited and scared. I remember being a few minutes late to my first class because I got lost. The entire first week of college, I felt rushed. I was in a new state; I moved one day before college began and I knew absolutely no one. So you could imagine the anxiety that was bottled up inside me. I was so overwhelmed and I remember crying a lot because I thought I would never feel at home in my new environment.
Looking back from freshman year to now, I am so proud of my growth and maturity, and strength. College has taught me that I can overcome anything. It has also taught me about the importance of communication. I used to be shy and talking to my professors felt tedious. However, college has helped me to grow into a person who isn’t afraid to speak up for myself. I’ve become more confident and realized that it’s okay for people to disagree with my opinion. After all, it only has to matter to me. If you haven’t done so already, take some time to reflect on freshman to senior year, and think about how much you have grown as a person.
Reflect on your past 3 years of growth
One of the most valuable lessons college taught me was learning how to be alone and stand on my own two feet. During my first year of college, I surrounded myself with many people for the fear of being alone. I was codependent on their company, and I’m sure some of you did the same. I went to the dining hall, the gym, the library, and the athletic center, all with my large group of friends. You may wonder what’s wrong with spending time with friends? Nothing. Except for the fact that I was not creating my own identity, and I was being molded into my friend’s identities. I even started to experience FOMO (Fear of missing out). However, as school progressed and friendships started becoming more distant, I realized spending time with myself was refreshing. I went on walks by myself, and cooked myself dinner, and enjoyed my beautiful city with just my thoughts. I learned how to be independent and self-reliant. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends and I enjoy spending time with them, but I discovered the importance of not only being able to do things by myself but fully enjoying the time spent with myself.
As you’re about to embark on your senior year of college, there’s probably a lot of things racing through your mind. You want to enjoy your last year with your closest friends, maintain a good GPA to earn some level of distinction at graduation and try to score a job before receiving your college diploma. It’s a lot, I know. Here are some practical tips to alleviate any stress you're feeling about graduating from college:
Make sure you are on target to graduate
Here’s a bit of advice from me to you. If you haven’t already, at the beginning of the semester (the sooner the better) check in with your advisor to ensure you are on track for graduation. You don’t want to find out you have one more class to take or a few more required credit hours when it’s too late. Don’t allow senioritis to kill your drive and motivation. It can happen to the best of us. By being proactive, you can minimize and eliminate the stress and worries of graduating. Personally, I like to check in with my advisor at the beginning of the semester before it gets too busy. It’s usually a short meeting, but she always keeps me updated on my academic progress as well as programs that are available to me that I wasn’t aware of.
Create your resume
Another piece of advice, if you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to create a resume. Whether you are applying to graduate programs or looking for that first job, you should be polishing off your resume. Check out this link provided for more info on how to get help with drafting your resume: https://www.topresume.com/resume-writing.
Plan your Post-Graduation
Most of my friends, myself included, have already decided that we want to go to grad school after we graduate. If you are thinking about graduate school right after college, make sure to discuss this with your advisor so you know what is required of you. Similar to when you were applying to undergrad, there are many deadlines you have to meet, forms you have to submit, and interviews you will have to prepare for. If you don’t think you want to pursue grad school right after undergrad, your advisor may inform you about gap year programs to take advantage of. Taking a gap year may ease anxiety and build your confidence. When you do get ready to attend graduate school, you most likely will feel prepared and relaxed.
Join your Last Events as an Undergrad
There are probably many events that your campus hosts that you may never even have thought of attending, or probably never even heard of. At my university, we have a concert or a back-to-school social event at the beginning of every fall semester. If concerts and social events isn’t your thing, seek out smaller events. I decided to start volunteering more whenever I can. Last semester, I was able to help make mental wellness kits and walk around the city to pass them out. These mental wellness kits included fidget spinners to help ease anxiety. Water bottles to help stay hydrated. Stress relief balls. Inspirational sticker quotes. And many other items that were of great use. I didn’t participate in as many volunteer opportunities as I would like due to being at home this past year and a half. However, since many of you are returning to in-person college this semester, look out for campus events! Make the most of your last few months as an undergraduate student.
In closing, keep in mind that time flies. You may think that this year will go very slowly since it is your last year of college and you can’t wait until it’s over. You’re wrong. Senior year is by far the quickest and is gone before you know it. It is a time for reflection. And, a time to thank those that helped you get to college. Maybe it’s your parents or grandparents or mentors. Maybe it is your teachers that motivated you to obtain a higher education. Senior year is the year that you take the leap of faith.
Your life is your story and the adventure ahead of you is the journey to fulfill your own purpose and potential- Kerry Washington.
By: Francesca Mina