Most people do it in four. But some of us aren’t as lucky- or are much luckier, depending on how you want to look at it. We’re the grandmas and grandpas of the campus; we’ve been through it, we know, we’re old, and we know it. And most of us embrace it and may occasionally use it against you if you think you know more about our school than us. I’m going to talk about an aspect of college that is rarely shed light on – the 5th year senior.
We’re always around but you might not always notice us. We’re finishing up the final classes of our minors, we have one more year of athletics eligibility, or maybe we changed our major 5 times before we found the right one. Whatever the reason happens to be, we’re still here, and we tend to fly under the radar much more than we had in previous years of undergrad.
We’re not exactly like the 4th years posting all over social media about how much we can’t believe it’s our last year in college or how excited we are for our last first days of school. We’ve already done that with the people in our grade last year who, you know, graduated on time.
This year, we’re ever-observant yet especially silent, and we go about our daily activities with a new and almost satyrical outlook on college as we can watch all the current first through fourth years enact right in front of us the way we behaved for the past four years of our lives.
We probably feel awkward and out of place as a fifth wheel in the generally four-wheeled race of undergrad, but we mentally even out this awkwardness with dominance because we have been here longer than all of you and therefore know more too.
We’re not upset to be here- in fact we are likely very happy to put off the real world longer (which we are currently witnessing all of our close friends who have just graduated deal with and be consumed by) No, we’re not upset about being here; we love the fact that we can be sheltered by the warm and comfortable shield of undergrad for a little bit longer, but this year is much different than the rest and comes with a unique and hilarious set of adjustments and thought processes that help us get through this extremely odd time of life.
1. We’re too old for this shit.
What shit? All shit. All the shit that you normal-four-year-interval college students do. We don’t want to do it anymore because we simply feel too old. We try to go out to parties and immediately have the freshman asking what year we are and feel awkward not knowing whether to just blow it off and say we’re seniors or tell them the truth that we’re 5th years and watch their eyes widen as they look at us like we’re Yoda.
And Yoda isn’t even a bad comparison actually; we are the older and wiser of the school. We have been there and done that; we have been to all the parties and done all the stupid things you guys are doing, and now we are just too old.
Let’s be honest though, we are still EXTREMELY convincible to go out. We still love to go out. But we will probably complain at least a little bit about how old we feel, and groan when we see freshmen. We may attempt to convince you to go to a bar instead because that’s where we feel more comfortable.
2. We aren’t going to do anything new. Don’t even try.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and the same thing goes with us. Trying to get us to join a new organization or involved with a new group on campus? Please. We did that whole ‘trying new things’ thing during our first four years of college. We aren’t interested, but thanks.
We stay involved in the things that we want to stay involved in, and other than that, we don’t care about your dance group or your save-the-planet club. When we see a group of people wearing matching T-shirts all cheering and taking part in a group activity, we feel slightly sickened and fondly reminisce on the days where that sort of thing looked like fun.
After all, in this transition period that being a 5th year senior is, we are probably focusing more on what we are going to do AFTER college than trying to delve deeper into college itself.
3. All of our friends in our grade graduated.
As nice as it is that we can still live in the fantasy world of college while we wave at all of our friends in the real world as they move home, struggle to find jobs, and basically have no idea what they’re doing with their lives, there is one harsh reality here – we have no friends anymore. We feel like loners without the same crew we had the first four years of school. Of course people have younger teammates, younger friends from other organizations we may have been involved in, or a few fellow 5th years, but our core college posse is gone and disbanded. College graduation is a very real thing, my friends, and people seriously end up all over the world after that shit. And 5th year seniors, well, we’re still here.
4. The impending real world is much more real now.
It was always so distant and not actually something we had to think about, but now we’re basically at the edge looking over the cliff and preparing to jump. We’re actually weighing our options now for what to do after we graduate, and we definitely have to because our parents have probably cut us off pretty damn quickly after taking an extra year of college (sorry dad). We’re thinking about where to move and applying to jobs as we hear the horror stories of our peers trying to get their post-grad lives together. It’s just a matter of time until we’re right there with you, friends.
5. We don’t want to meet you. You’re probably annoying. Sorry.
No new friends is especially true for our 5th year kind. We won’t be here much longer and meeting new people seems futile because we probably won’t know them after we graduate anyway.
I had a wide-eyed freshman come up and introduce herself to me and start talking about her experience on a sports team and how she is liking college. That’s great and all, and I remember when I was exactly like you, but that time is no longer. You will think its weird when you find out I’m a 5th year anyway.
6. This new feeling of not having FOMO for everything.
Personally, I have been known to have a horrible case of FOMO. Maybe my sorority (which I am now too old to be in) is having an event, or maybe my friends are going to a party or an an adventure around the town. I am used to feeling like I am missing out big time if I know something cool is going on without me… and even getting a small case of anxiety as I curse my decision not to go. But, for some reason, this year has been different. Lately, when I decide not to attend a fun outing… I feel NOTHING. Sometimes, I even feel a little bit of happiness that I am comfortably in my bed instead of wherever my friends are.
This absence of FOMO is really new to me, and really weird. I can’t decide yet if I like it or not, but I know I am always happy as a clam with my glass of wine on the couch instead of at a party I would usually be longing to attend.
7. Everyone asks us what we are still doing here.
“Oh my GOD, what are you doing here?! I thought you graduated!!” …. no. Clearly not. This is something us 5th years are used to hearing, and we hate it. We are lost and confused as well and aren’t really sure what we are still doing here either, and do not appreciate all your questioning as to why we didn’t get out in 4 like everyone else.
Being a super-senior is an extremely unique time of college and life, and if embraced, it can be one of the best.
Although our friends from our grade have graduated and people constantly ask us why we are still here, in a slightly embarrassed yet proud fashion, we continue to hold our heads high and walk around campus like we own the place, because, well, we pretty much do.