If you’re anything like me, you’ve had one foot out the door since before you stepped on campus to begin your last semester of college. I practically had to be dragged to the airport to embark on my last cross-country journey before I could return home for good. My heart belongs in California and the last thing I wanted was to exchange the place I love with a much colder, non-permanent North Carolina environment. Despite my reservations and oppositions I began my final semester with the goal to merely get through the final one hundred and twenty five days. I had every intention of keeping my socializing to the minimum, dedicating myself to my schoolwork, and dreaming of the day that I would be home free. As I reflected on this strategy I realized this was no way to spend my last four months as an undergraduate college student.
I’ve noticed there are two types of college seniors: those who refuse to hear the “g” word (graduation) and those who are counting down the days until the commencement of their college career. Though you may be few and far between, these words are for those who have daily countdowns until they receive their diploma, those who have given up living a college lifestyle and aim to merely make it to the end. Let it be known that I commiserate with you. I have been looking forward to graduation for longer than I’m willing to admit. There is nothing wrong with being excited to begin a new chapter of your life; however, there is something wrong with letting that excitement interfere with how you’re finishing up the current chapter. Whenever you consider passing up an opportunity or get angry that time isn’t passing fast enough, remember these truths that will allow you to enjoy the little time you have left.
You will never be this connected to your friends.
From daily lunch dates to 2am cookout runs to a 24/7 shoulder to cry on, this is the last semester you will have this type of relationship with your friends. Daily lunch dates will turn in to eating leftovers in the office and 2 am fast food runs won’t exist because you will be in bed before midnight. Your friends will always be a shoulder to cry on, but the days of being able to crawl into their bed and cry in their arms are limited. Take advantage of these moments while you can. You aren’t the only one starting a new chapter of your life; they are too. Not everyone will have the same amount of free time, the same work schedule, or even the same time zone. Never pass up an opportunity to gossip and giggle with those who have made your college career complete. Have too many wine nights and sacrifice your desire to stay at home in exchange for priceless memories with your friends who will soon be miles, not steps, away from you.
Your social life will never be the same.
I am the first person to admit that frequently going out can be redundant and exhausting, let alone expensive. A night in bed may seem much more appealing than dancing on tables at the bar. Even if this is true, don’t let that stop you from celebrating hump day with a shot of tequila and that cutie from your psych class last semester. This time next year it will no longer be socially acceptable for you to hit up the bars on a weeknight. And I can guarantee your psych class crush won’t be there either. That behavior is only reserved for weekend nights at the very most. Keep in mind that you’re in your prime and it’s only downhill from here. You might as well take advantage of it while you can. Your bed isn’t going anywhere. I promise.
Dating will only get harder when you enter the real world.
Whether you have been happily in a relationship, empowered and single, or stupidly hung up on a guy throughout your college career, the world of dating is about to drastically change. Date parties will cease to exist, bar and fraternity congregations of college singles will be a thing of the past, and thousand of bachelor neighbors will only seem like a dream. Regardless if you’re looking for a relationship or not, this is the last time to effortlessly meet other singles and have a little fun. You will regain your self-respect after graduation; it’s okay to misplace it at least one more time until then.
Skipping work isn’t as plausible as skipping class.
We’ve all had one of those days. The kind of day where your alarm rings, you immediately silence it for good, and forego all of the day’s responsibilities to sleep until noon and catch up on your current Netflix obsession. Unfortunately Netflix withdrawal isn’t an acceptable excuse for skipping work. Vacation days will be precious; you will have to take time off for things that seem so obvious now such as holidays and trips to visit friends and family. You are currently able to skip class without penalty, be given a weeklong break to travel with friends, and are given holidays as a free pass. While you shouldn’t abandon your schoolwork and other commitments it’s okay to treat yourself this semester. If your friends want to ditch class to get mani/pedi’s, don’t be so focused on graduation that you pass this up. These limited months are the last time you’ll be able to, so make sure you do this more than you probably should.
Your time with limited responsibilities is coming to an end.
Going to class a few hours a day, spending your afternoon at an effortless campus job, and having hours of free time to fill with guilty pleasures will sound like heaven next year. Juggling a job, graduate school, an attempt at a social life, and learning to live completely independently will be a challenge to say the least. You will be begging to be put back in that criminal justice class you fell asleep in every Tuesday and Thursday. You will dream of trading your hefty bills for your twenty degree walks to class and your traffic-filled commute with your university’s subpar Wi-Fi. The responsibilities you have now will seem like child’s play and you will be begging to exchange real-world challenges for the least enjoyable part of your current life. Make this realization and sharing a kitchen with fourteen others won’t seem so bad anymore.
When it’s over, you can never get it back.
Once you trade your college lifestyle for your post-grad life there’s no trading them back. It’s completely normal to be excited to return to your home state, begin graduate school or start a job, and establish yourself as a profession. Just remember there is still a lot to be excited about until that point. Don’t sell yourself short one semester; you’ve come this far. Commit to making these the most carefree months of your life. As cliché as it may be, in the end we regret the chances we didn’t take. Let this be your mantra. Understand that your future is waiting for you and it isn’t going anywhere. Today only happens once, never take that for granted. Don’t throwaway opportunities for something that will come with time. So keep your countdowns and the marks on your calendar. Instead of urging time to pass more quickly, look at each day as an opportunity to do something that soon won’t be possible. You’ll be wishing for four more years of college in the future so don’t let the time you do have left go to waste.