U is for Upperclassmen Problems
“If you had to repeat college all over again, what would you do differently?”
People seem to have a burning desire to ask seniors what they would change about their Kenyon experience if they had to repeat it. This seems like a harmless question for freshmen and prospective students to ask because they usually are genuinely trying to navigate the process themselves. However, there are people who ask questions of this nature as a conversation starter. Try, for a minute, to put yourself in the shoes of someone who is trying hard to not think of the fact that they are about to leave a place they know and love for the “real world.” I don’t know what’s next. I’m just trying to survive senior year. This is just a part of No. 5 of my list of Top Five Upperclassmen Struggles.
5. Dealing With Seemingly Harmless, But Extremely Loaded, Questions: “What are you going to do when you graduate?” “What would you change if you had to repeat your college experience?” My mental answers to both of those questions are always “I have no freaking clue,” and “Maybe not associate with people like you.” Then I’ll actually respond with “I honestly don’t know” to both of those questions. I don’t think there’s any senior who is 100% sure of what they are going to do after college. It’s not like we’re not working on it. It’s just such an open-ended question to ask a confused senior who is dealing with the dreaded senior exercise. My birthday is three days after graduation and, if I had my way, I’d like to sleep through those three days. Thus, I think the question to address those feelings should be, “What would you like to do after graduation?” and NOT “What are you doing after graduation?”
4. Watching the ‘Freshman 15’ become either ‘Senior -10’ or ‘Senior +20’: Weight is a huge problem because it could go either way. You are sleep-deprived. You have resigned yourself to ingesting excessive quantities of coffee and/or ice cream. You cope with stress by eating and/or working out at the KAC. I could go on and on about the bad habits you form when you’re most stressed out.
3. Staying in touch: Keeping up with both friends at Kenyon and friends who don’t attend Kenyon is something I’ve been struggling with lately, especially with regard to my friends from Nigeria. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to them. It’s just easier to stick to my work and not make that extra effort to keep in touch. And, sometimes, work really does get in the way. Two weekends ago, I had to pull an all-nighter doing work on a Saturday, and I woke up too late to attend the Columbus Buddy Walk for Down’s syndrome with my friend, Rita, who lost her son, Andy, five years ago. I still feel so bad about falling asleep, and this is just one example of my experiences of being a better friend to my homework than to my actual friends.
2. Finding Jobs: Entertaining the idea of the real world and its expectations of a college graduate is difficult because no one told me that you’re behind on everything in senior year!
1. Staying Focused: Keeping up my work ethic is by far the hardest for me. According to UrbanDictionary.com, senioritis is “an illness that generally strikes high school seniors; some symptoms of this illness include procrastination, laziness, excessive absences and tardies, skipping class, a change in normal attire, (ex. overuse of extremely casual Friday), senior pranks and multiple, multiple senior skip days. The only known cure for this bizarre illness is graduation.” I beg to differ that college seniors experience this illness more acutely. There is so much work to do and absolutely no time to do it, combined with the feeling that you’ve been working for a long time already. I think this can only get worse before it gets better.
However, many seniors before me have faced these struggles and emerged victorious. And many seniors after me will face these struggles. Everyone’s difficulties may not be exactly the same or ranked in the same order, but there definitely will be struggles for everyone who is finishing up a college experience. I’m grateful to go to a place like Kenyon where I can keep in touch with the graduates who have been through the process before me and who have offered me hugs, a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on. It makes me feel like no matter how different my senior exercise may be from my peers’, I have a broad network of professor, peer and alumni support, and I will survive.