eNotes’ editorial intern just graduated from university!
Wondering what it’s like to leave college and move on to the real world? Outlined here are the six phases of graduation… and yeah, they’re just a little scary. But don’t worry, you’ll get through it.
I just graduated a week ago. So naturally, I’ve been thinking a lot.
If I could paint you a picture of what my senior year looked like, I’d say it kind of resembled the Splash Mountain ride at Disneyland. I’ve summed it up with an acronym, “Yjecda,” which I’m pretty sure means “chaos” in Elvish, but don’t quote me on that.
Allow me to walk you through.
Stage 1: the YES phase
Man, you are so excited. You just caught sight of the ride. The line is long. It must be good. Everyone says it’s good. You are getting on that ride. Nothing can stop you. Except for maybe churros. There’s always time for churros.
Your face looks like this:
The start of senior year feels like uncontainable excitement. The thoughts bouncing through your head sound something like, “YES” and “THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST YEAR YET” and “YOLO” (for the bros).You’re amped. You know how everything works. You have your friends. You know the ins and outs and you’re just ready to make the most of them. The time is NOW. Like…right now.
Stage 2: the Just no phase
You get to the line, just as the time on that little board of dread changes to “70 minute wait,” and you hear the person in front of you yell something like, “I think the ride broke down.” SERIOUSLY. But you’ve already committed, so you just stand there sullenly, waiting.
You look like this:
Yeah, you’re over it. It’s probably winter quarter. You don’t want to take any more midterms or finals. You don’t want to go to class because it’s keeping you from doing the things you want to do (like sleeping). The library looks like a black hole. You’re antsy (in extreme cases, this might mean you’re in a rut. Eek…) You feel like it’ll never end and you’re not sure how you’ve spent so many hours and years studying and studying and studying. This is just not acceptable. You may acquire forehead wrinkle lines from excessive frowning during this stage.
Stage 3: the I’m Excited again phase
You may have waited an hour and a half, but you’re about to get on the ride. There’s only one little girl and her father left in front of you, and you’re prepared to take them down if you have to. You’re so close, you can smell the damp walls. Mmm,victory.
Your feel a little like this:
You’re so close to graduation you can taste it. This might be spring quarter, or really any time around a month or so before you graduate. You’re just so pumped about all the potential opportunities that await you. You feel free and boundless– like you can do anything you want. No more boundaries. You’re in charge of your life for the first time. AND YOU’RE REALLY EXCITED ABOUT IT.
Stage 4: Confusion
At this point, you’re on the ride. And it’s really dark. When you start moving, you realize you have no idea where you are or what you’re seeing. You’re sitting in a log and it’s not comfortable and you’re confused why they would design it that way. There’s noises. What are those noises? It sounds like water. Like a waterfall. “Oh my god am I going to die?” So many thoughts. You keep dropping every now and then when you least expect it and…what? Is that a rabbit? WHAT IS GOING ON?
You’re all like this:
This is usually how you feel about 2-5 weeks before graduating.
How did you get here? You feel like a child trapped in some body that’s been wrecked by four years of undergrad. Those memories. All those memories! You were just a freshman, don’t you remember? You’re thinking about when you got accepted, and when you decided to go here. You’re thinking about your first friends. You’re thinking about first everythings. My god, has it really been four years? You don’t understand anything anymore. Nothing makes sense. You think about how time flies and it makes you want to hug things. What’s happening?
Stage 5: Dread
“The drop. It’s coming. It’s coming. I can tell. IT’S COMING. Maybe if I close my eyes. Oh my god. OMG.”
Your face be like..
Well, you just finished your last college course. How’s that feel? Like crap. It feels like crap. What are you going to do? What’s your next step? Are you excited to move away from all of your friends? Are you stoked to have to assume real responsibility? Are you looking forward to leaving the university you’ve called your home for the past four years? Are you just going to love creating a whole, new life where everything’s different?
At this point, the answer to all these questions is a fat no. A big, fat no.
Stage 6: Acceptance
Well, it happened. There’s nothing you can do about it. You’re soaked in the kind of water you’re not supposed to jump into for fear of illness or disease. You smell like dirt. Water is seeping into your jeans. “Why did I wear jeans?” Mistakes, so many mistakes. But it happened. Time to go eat some pineapple frozen yogurt and get over it. You’re going to enjoy the rest of your day because you’re at the happiest place on earth. Just got to dry off a little first.
And you look like this
At this point you’ve accepted your fate. You’re done with college. But you know your life is going to lead you to lots of happy places. They’ll be different, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be bad. And you’re okay with it. You’re even a little bit eager to get started. It’s just going to take some adjusting, and you’re ready for that too.
You’re proud of yourself because you conquered college, and you conquered it with style.
So there you have it. The metamorphosis of a graduating senior.
Bring it on, world.
Here at eNotes, our intern evidently doesn’t pull any punches. Following are the straight up facts about the post-winter break blues (aka ‘WAA’) and how to overcome them with this six step program, straight from your fellow student’s mouth:
WINTER BREAK IS OVER.
Ouch. That sort of hurt, didn’t it? I do apologize, I just thought saying it out loud might make it easier to comprehend. For many of us, our winter holidays are coming to an end. If you’re like me, you are now trying to piece together memories of what life was like before vacation, and it’s a very sad business. You have adapted to days filled with holiday celebrations, friends, family, the couch, copious amounts of cookies, home-cooked meals, the couch, your bed, blankets, and more couch time. Now, I don’t know about you, but adapting to that lifestyle took me all of three seconds. So why is it so hard to snap back into the “student” life we’ve been leading for practically all our years? The way I see it, there are three phases most of us go through.
- The Wallowing Phase
- The Acceptance Phase
- The Adapting Phase
Let’s make an acronym out of it: “WAA.” WAA is the process by which the average student adjusts to reality after enduring a highly enjoyable, relaxing vacation. The first phase (Wallowing) is characterized by irritability, anxiousness, complaining, heightened laziness (the laziest you’ve ever been), and prolonged sleeping. The second phase (Acceptance) is characterized by, well, acceptance. You know that you have to go back to school and normal life, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Now, I didn’t say you were necessarily happy about the situation, but you’ve become accustomed to the idea. The final phase (Adapting) is where you take steps to get used your student lifestyle again. Now, as a student who has seen many winter break transitions, I am a master of the WAA, especially phase 3. I thought I’d give you a few tips for getting back into the swing of things. They’re real, they’re awesome, and they’re coming at you in list format:
- Make a list or two: Time management is one of the most beneficial skills you can learn. Sometimes, keeping track of things is really difficult. There’s a pretty decent chance you’re a little flustered right now, seeing as you’ve been thrown right into the craziness of school all over again. With so many things to take care of (assignment due dates from here until June, exams, quizzes, projects, and all the aspects of your daily, personal lives as well), you’re quite right to be a little flustered. How are you going to get it all done and when? Whenever I feel this way, I make lists. Lists and lists and lists. They really work, and all it takes is a piece of paper and a pen (you can use some sort of iPhone app if you would like to, but I prefer the old-school format). Here’s what you do: write down a list of all the things you have to do. Just get it all out of your head and onto the paper. You can leave it just like that, if you’d like, or you can organize it further by due date, class, or some amalgamation of the two. Then when you complete a task, guess what? You get to cross it off. Believe me, it feels awesome. Not only can you see everything you have to accomplish very clearly in front of you, but you can also really feel and see yourself getting things done. So make a list, it can’t hurt!
- Create a routine and do your best to stick to it: Routines are really helpful for a couple of reasons. For one thing, they give you a clear idea of what your day or week is going to look like. You can become accustomed to the pattern so that certain things you don’t necessarily enjoy very much (say, exercising or studying for example) can be accomplished with much more ease. There’s a certain invisible accountability you feel to the routine. You can’t let it down! And once it becomes habit, it’s easy as pie. Routines also help with time management. Having a relatively set schedule makes it easier to know when you will have free time to accomplish certain tasks. You’ll feel charged and on track, ready to take on the day.
- Set realistic educational goals: Now I’m not saying you have to make a commitment to study eight hours a night. We have to be realistic. You could, for instance, give yourself the goal of finishing a term paper a week in advance, so you will have more time to study for finals at the end of the term. You might achieve that by doing little segments of the paper throughout the semester, or by blocking certain chunks of time for uninterrupted work on your paper. Any kind of goal, no matter how small, can really help propel you along this academic rollercoaster. Graduation, degrees—those can all seem very far off. If you can give yourself a goal that seems closer in proximity and feels more attainable, you will undeniably feel more motivated in the academic setting, and in your life in general.
- Be active: Yes, your bed is comfortable. Yes, your favorite TV drama is on. Yes, Facebook might as well be your desktop background. It’s nearly impossible to avoid all these things, especially when coming back from a vacation. It’s almost as if we’re being sucked in. One of the best ways to beat the winter break spell, then, is to fight back. We don’t always realize how lethargic we’ve become. Fighting lethargy and doing some exercise or even partaking in hobbies—anything to get you moving—will increase your energy. I mean, endorphins, right? You’ll be a happier camper if you’re up and about and moving around. The activity feeds off itself and you will find yourself doing more and more without thinking about it. You’ll stop counting the steps it takes to get from your bed to the refrigerator and instead use your legs willingly and excitedly. You’ll feel more alive, and subsequently, feel like you can take on the entire world. Yes, the world is your oyster.
- Remember why you’re really in school: Hey, be excited! You’ve been given this opportunity to learn at the hands of different professors and teachers, and you are getting something out of it. Even if you can’t appreciate it now, you know that deep down you really want to be here, and that you’re acquiring something invaluable by participating. You are getting an education that is going to help you create the future you want, whatever that may be. That is something to feel grateful for.
- Take a deep breath: Just do it. It will always help. Inhale, then exhale, slowly. Now smile, and go to class. You’re probably already late.