graduating early

Graduating Early: Facing the Last Semester of College

Spring semester, just a few months ago really (though it feels like forever), I decided with my parents’ help to graduate a semester early. I studied abroad in Italy over the summer, giving me extra credits with only a regular semester’s worth needed to fulfill all of my graduation requirements. At the time, it didn’t seem like a big deal. I felt like I should celebrate the fact that I wouldn’t be in school forever. I would save myself and my parents a nice chunk of change. Even better, I’d miss a good portion of walking around campus in the brutal Syracuse winter.

But now the semester is starting. And I’m freaking out. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up—correction: what I want to be when I graduate…because I’m already grown up! Am I ready to really be off on my own, paying all my own bills, taking care of myself completely? Where will I find this job? Should I look into grad school or take a break? What connections do I have to make this process easier? Brain overload! I thought leaving school early would make my life easier. But it truly isn’t when your whole life has been focused on school and letting your parents support you.

Here’s the thing…we’re all going to go through this eventually, sooner or later. Whether you’re just a freshman starting out or a senior with a whole year ahead of you, faster than we think we’ll be out on our own. Our parents did it before us, so why can’t we? Right now, on the brink of my life really beginning, I feel really nervous because I don’t have a definite plan or the certainty of what I want to do, where I want to be. In reality, that’s some of the excitement. Even if I knew exactly what kind of job I wanted down to the company, the city, the title, there’s no guarantees I’d get that job. Life in unpredictable, and all I can do is work my hardest and try my best to succeed.

For anyone considering graduating early or in the same boat as me, let’s take a deep breath. We made it through college. We’re graduating, and that’s an amazing thing. Being hard working enough to graduate early is even better. We stressed about school and homework and finals our whole lives. Now we can take a breath and plunge into our future, what we’ve been striving for forever. You might not feel like it now, but you can do this. You have friends and family to call on if you need help figuring out why your one apartment door doesn’t close all the way, or what’s the best way to ask for a deserved raise, or even how to change your career path if it’s not working out. We’re never alone. We’re not the only ones starting our careers or finding our way in the world. And though that’s still unnerving, just know we can do it. Optimism is the best way to face the future, especially when you still have months or years to go until having to make these sorts of decisions.

So, going into this semester, I don’t have a plan. I’m going to go to class, do my work, complain about how hard these classes are, try to find time to relax, and hope for the best. And somewhere along the line, my future will become clearer. I’ll figure out what I’m going to do with my life, apply for jobs or grad schools and just let the chips fall where they may. It’s ok to not have a definite plan or always know where life is going to take you. As a young adult, this it the time more than ever to try and fail and try again. Let’s see where this semester takes us—we’re in this together.

Best wishes and happy new school year!