Senior year. This is it. You’ve made it this far.
Senior year and I had a very complicated relationship. I loved parts of it, like how in depth into the material we got, but other parts were, well… not so great. Most of the things that were difficult, though, weren’t so much about senior year as much as they were about me.
In senior year, I learned so much more about myself than I did in any of my courses. I think it’s that way for most people, but it was a definite learning curve for me. And many of these lessons I learned after they could have helped make my year that much better! So I wanted to make sure that you didn’t make the same mistakes I did, and had the best senior year you possibly could. Because it really is a blast.
1. Your plans are most likely going to change
In senior year, we often have our plans set in stone. We have a specific program or job we want, and that’s what we’re going for with tunnel vision.
But the number of people I know from my graduating year, including myself, who changed their goals is astounding.
The program that you’re killing yourself to get into, or the job you think you can’t live without, really isn’t worth the stress that you’re giving it. To be honest, most likely you’re going to get out into the real world and change your mind completely. Many people don’t, it’s true, but many more do. When you step out of the academic world, it’s like you remember, “oh! There is more to life than school!” And it’s a very freeing realization.
So work hard. Do your best so that you aren’t limited in your options. But don’t kill yourself over one particular goal. If God wants you to do it, he will equip you with what you need.
2. No one is going to make this easy for you
You’re in senior year now. You’ve been doing this for three years already, and you’re on your fourth. Your professors are not going to hold your hand. This year is to prep you for grad school or the work force, so you’d better learn some independence when it comes to your school.
If you’re doing an honours thesis especially, you’ve got to get into the mindset that this is your education, and this is your future, and you’re only going to get out what you put in. So don’t wait for someone to come and help you through. It’s just not going to happen–because you are more than capable of doing it yourself.
This may seem like a scary thing, but this was actually one of my favourite parts of senior year. I really love being independent, so being able to just go off and do my own thing was fantastic. But it was a learning curve, that’s for sure. They spoil us in the first three years of college!
3. It’s OK to go an unconventional route
I was part of a lab that had very high expectations for their honours thesis students. So I took a reduced course load so that I would have time to do the work I needed to. And yes, it meant I had to do a summer course, but it was worth it to have some extra time. My thesis was stressful enough as it was, I really didn’t need another course on top of it all.
Don’t be afraid to try something different than everyone else. Got an opportunity with a company? Then put off graduating for another year. Want to spend lots of time in research? Do a reduced course load, like I did. It’s perfectly fine to be different than everyone else.
4. Not being able to do it all isn’t a sign of weakness
I pushed myself much too far during my senior year. Like I mentioned in my post about junior year, I am a major perfectionist. I overloaded myself in my senior year but was unwilling to admit it. I was running my blog, working on my book proposal, dealing with being married and all the adjustments that come with that, as well as all my school.
It was crazy, and it seriously affected my mental health to be that stretched thin.
It is perfectly acceptable to recognize your limits and give up some commitments so that you yourself stay healthy. I cannot stress how important this is. None of the things I was doing last year were bad things–they were all very good. I was just doing too many. So take stock of your capabilities, your mental health, and what things you can cut back on. You’ll thank yourself later.
5. Enjoy these last months of school
Most of all, don’t let this year slip away. I finished my last exam at the University of Ottawa for my undergrad and it was just done. It went by so quickly and before I knew it, it was gone. All my friends I had made in my classes moved back to their hometowns to find jobs, or to different cities for grad school. It was strange.
Although school was definitely stressful, I also did really love it. And I miss going to lectures and constantly learning and stretching myself academically. Not saying I would volunteer to do it all again just yet, but I wish I had taken more time to just enjoy myself in my last year. Take some time and just take it all in. Yes, it’s a hard year, but the university experience is one that you don’t get ever again. So remember to see the good amidst the crazy.
Senior year was definitely busy, but it was also a lot of fun. I wish I had just let myself enjoy it more, instead of always stressing about the future, when my plans changed completely after I graduated, anyway!
If you’re in senior year, I wish you all the best. Remember, you can do this. You’ve got three years under your belt, and you’ve proven again and again your capabilities. But let it not all be about the grades–take some time and appreciate everything the last four years have been.
Because before you know it, you’ll be done! So make sure to enjoy it while it lasts.
Make sure to check out the rest of this series:
- 9 Things I Wish I Knew in Freshman Year
- 7 Things I Wish I Knew in Sophomore Year
- 7 Things I Wish I Knew in Junior Year