By Kristen Lee
The end of spring quarter is creeping up on all of us, even if it still seems far away (*cough* finals *cough*). As a senior, though, I’m especially aware that my time is limited. This has led to a lot of reflection on my time at Stanford.
I’ve noticed that senior year has a very distinct feel. Sure, every year is different from the other, but in my book of life, senior year deserves its own chapter. Here are some ways in which my senior year has been different.
I’ve said “I’m old” multiple times.
In junior year, two of my senior friends said “I’m so old!” and I thought to myself, But you’re 21, you’re not old. A year later, I said “I’m old” to a junior friend, and she said “Kristen, you’re not old.” Now that I’m a senior, I not only know what my friends from junior year meant, but I feel what my senior friends had meant.
Between finishing your major and applying for either grad school or jobs, senior year tires you out in a way that no other year does. When I hear freshmen talking about rush or getting ready for a party while I’m getting ready for bed, I feel distinctly like a senior.
In the grand scheme of life, I’m definitely not old, but in college years, I might as well be a grandma.
I spend 90 percent of my time thinking about post-college life.
Between writing cover letters and having phone interviews, I’ve devoted a large chunk of time to post-graduation plans. I chose not to coterm, but my coterm friends have talked about filling out their applications or cramming coterm classes into their schedules.
More than any other year, senior year is about preparing for life beyond your current place and mindset. It’s very much a one-foot-in, one-foot-out kind of situation. It can feel frustrating to not be fully here nor there, but it’s also exciting to know that change is around the corner.
I don’t bike during rush hour.
By rush hour, I don’t mean an hour; I mean the ten minutes between the twenty-minute and thirty-minute mark of each hour, or the fifty-minute mark and the top of the hour. These are the periods between when one class ends and another starts.
During this rush period, people bike the fastest and most recklessly, swerving around pedestrians or dashing through the Circle of Death. After navigating this craziness for three years, I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore. Now, I don’t bike during rush period unless it’s absolutely necessary. This usually means leaving for class 10 minutes early or sticking by my classroom for 15 extra minutes.
A lot of senior year is about realizing “You know what? I don’t actually have to do this.” You know what you need to do, but you also see what inconveniences you don’t need in your life. You’ve gotten through three years of college; you deserve to cut yourself some slack.
The Draw means nothing to me.
Tier 3? Tier 1? Preassign? Those are things of the past. Apartment searching is its own can of worms, but it was pretty nice to not fill out the Draw this spring.
Graduating feels a little unreal.
I’ve told myself since fall quarter that I’m ready to graduate, but now that the time is so close, it doesn’t completely feel real yet. No matter how much I prepare, graduation will inevitably catch me by surprise — what do you mean I’m not in college anymore?
But no matter how much I think about the past four years, I know that I’ve gotten what I wanted out of Stanford. I tried a lot of different classes and activities and I made great friends along the way. I’m not totally sure how I’ll be a “real adult,” but Stanford has taught me valuable lessons that will help me overcome any challenges I face, big or small.
So on commencement day, I can tell myself one thing for sure: I am here.
Contact Kristen Lee at klee23 ‘at’ stanford.edu.