With finals ending in exactly two weeks, I know many fellow college students are experiencing a melting pot of emotions. And why not? It’s a season of change: both physically and metaphorically. I know many seniors are preparing for the next stage in their careers, academic lives, and general future. Some are pursuing grad school, taking a gap year, travelling, or getting married. As a rising senior (I guess that makes me an almost senior), I’ll be experiencing similar bittersweet experiences next year. But, because time goes by quickly, I’m sure I’ll start feeling like fate is grabbing my ankle with gnarly knuckles and jagged fingernails and is pulling me towards its trap door of doom. That’s how I see it, but maybe all the speakers on graduation day will put it in more eloquent terms.

I think anyone can relate to experiencing big changes in life. But college isn’t the destination by which we arrive (I bet you’ve never heard that one before). It’s the beginning, meant to teach us methods of learning, breaking down assignments, and solving problems under deadlines, which are roles that any valuable employee in the workforce needs to understand. College is also terribly subjective. Outside of rubrics, you basically have to wing everything.

So, what is it really like?

My answer can be summed up in these following introductory sentences written in an article by Leon Jacobs, an advertiser and (obviously) writer.

I have a friend who’d been working in China for a long time. He said that after a week of being there you feel like you can write a book about China. After a year, you could manage an essay. After ten years of living in China, you would probably end up with a postcard.

If someone had tried to describe what I would learn in college to my almost-senior self during high school, I wouldn’t have believed it. Every angle of my life has shifted, sharpened, or shaped since landing on campus, and hopefully that’s a good thing. Describing those changes are tricky to recognize because we get used to adapting. College is about what you face during your time as a student to grow in your weaknesses and ignorances. It’s certainly intimidating and scary to try something new like this, mostly because it’s hard to predict what might happen: who you’ll meet, what classes you will or won’t like, what opportunities will sporadically appear, and whether you’ll see a famous athlete on your way to class or not.

My advice? Whatever you end up feeling and experiencing is probably normal. Hard anythings, unclear everythings, and upsetting somethings are rocky and not fun, but slowly you’ll realize that everyone else feels similarly and anyone who looks normal is either faking it or has learned how to factor the lumps in as expected elements of life.

College has also described what life past college is like: a spectrum of right, also right, kinda right, sometimes wrong, and never right options. At least, it’s anything but black and white. Take this advice from a not-quite graduate if you want, but this is what I’ve noticed so far.

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