How to Survive Your Senior Year of College
As a recent graduate of Cal State Long Beach, I wish I would have known the stress, frustrations, and chaos that comes with finishing off the last year of college. Right before I started my senior year, I broke out with eczema all over my hands. This was not something that was easy to deal with, but I later found out that this condition was a result of stress. College itself is stressful. However, the real stress hit for me when all I could think about was passing my upper-division classes, managing multiple projects, working part-time, and applying for graduation. The beginning of senior year was so different as opposed to the weeks before graduation.
Beginning of Senior Year
At the start of my senior year, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. As I signed up for fall semester, all I could think about was how I was going to do things differently to try to get an "A" on all of my courses. I got off to a great start and was gaining momentum when all of a sudden, assignments started piling up. Also, the job I had at the time was chaotic because we were prepping for the holiday season. I was working an average of 30 hours a week while managing a full-time schedule at school. One of the things that helped me was finding ways to stay organized. The thing that helped me stay organized was having a planner.
Before my senior year of college, I never really owned a planner and would just write in different notebooks all of my assignments. Right before school started, I purchased a planner where I could write daily as well as things to do. The planner also included a section for monthly goals and a monthly calendar. Keeping a planner helped me so much to remember all of my assignments, and I was able to write down my work and school schedules as well. Having a planner looks different for everybody, so there is no right way to do it. What helped me during this phase was searching for YouTube videos on maintaining a planner. Besides keeping and updating my planner, one of the things that helped me was self-care.
As students, we tend to forget that it is ok to take some time for yourself to relax. Self-care looks different for every single person. For some people reading a book might be relaxing, but for others being able to go out into nature helps put their mind at ease. During my final year of college, I didn't really take advantage of the resources my school offered. Every week they had "Wellness Wednesday," or some other activities to help students relax. During Wellness Wednesday, the student body organization would put up hammocks all-around a designated area. This was something that I did once or twice throughout the whole year. Going with a friend to just lay on the hammocks was something that allowed me to think about other stuff that didn't relate to school projects or work.
Finding a Counselor / Friend to Talk to
This may sound repetitive, but as I've mentioned, stress levels can rise when we are trying to graduate college and one of the things that relieve stress is talking. The idea of talking to someone about how you feel is something that not many people take the time to do. It seems many people like to post on social media about how happy they are or about some new purchase they made. It is hard to find the right people to talk to, but it is essential to know that you are not alone. It may feel frustrating if you don't have the right support system, and it may even feel like there is nobody to talk to; however, counselors may be of help during this transitioning phase.
The months leading up to graduation were very hectic for me because I was juggling classes, school, work, two jobs, and an internship. Besides these things, I was also involved in my church, and this sometimes made it very difficult. There was a point when I wanted to delay my graduation date because it was too much. My main goal was to walk across the stage and make my family proud. The trick is not to survive; it is to evaluate what your goals are and go after them. The best advice I could give to college seniors is to take one day at a time and enjoy the ride.