It’s that time of the year when I have to say goodbye to the senior class. HAPPY GRADUATION! It is all happening…fast!
Right now, many of you are having a jumble of emotions and you are justified in anything you might feel. This chapter is closing but the book has actually just started getting good.
Here are some tips:
1. I love that the students are fulfilling their Nashville/Vanderbilt bucket lists. That’s right, do all those things that you “didn’t have time” to do for the past four years. Perhaps do some things that you were embarrassed to do. Experience these things with the people you really love or just take in a few adventures by yourself and take an opportunity to reflect on all that has happened from move-in Day to your last day of classes.
2. Know that you won’t keep in touch with everyone. In fact, you might have even come to the realization that you really don’t want to keep in contact with some of the people you’ve chosen to spend time with during college. That’s okay. You’ll have to be intentional about keeping in touch with your friends. Social Media will make that much easier than when I graduated in 2005. Remember, you’ll have Homecoming, Alumni Reunion Weekend, and keep up with cool events in the cities in which you and your friends live. Plan a trip. Be sure to get people’s new addresses so that you can send them cards or care packages. Senior year is the time to drop the peripheral people in your life and really focus on your real friends.
3. Make sure to have a final meeting or meal with your favorite professors. They are fantastic resources and in case you want to go back to school it would be good to let them know your future dreams and that you’ll be in touch with them after graduation.
4. Say “Thank You” to those people that have had an impact on your college experience. Maybe you had a fantastic Panhellenic Advisor “ahem” or an academic advisor. Perhaps your House Director, RA, or coach really added value to your world. Let them know. I’ve enjoyed having dinner with some of my favorite Class of 2013 graduates and I know we’ll keep in touch.
5. Take lots of pictures. Gather your friends and take a little jaunt around campus and take pics in the most beautiful places on campus. Go to those special spots where you have great memories and document a moment. Make plans to meet up with your friends on graduation day so that you can take cute cap and gown pictures. Actually print these pictures and frame them for your new apartment or office. When you get a little “college sick” it will be nice to look around and see places and people that you love.
6. Get yourself packed before your parents arrive. If you’re ready to go then you’ll have more time to enjoy graduation day without worrying about taking time to pack. Remember to purge as you pack. Donate 95% of those t-shirts to your younger friends as you really don’t need 100 shirts with your sorority on it post graduation.
7. Do graduation! Don’t think you’re too cool for school. Make it the event that it is supposed to be. You are graduating from college–what a privilege! Go to the baccalaureate ceremony, go to ceremonies for your school or college, and attend the big graduation ceremony. I was lucky to go to a college with lots of traditions that took place during graduation weekend. I promise you won’t regret fitting these items into your schedule. Also, remember that a lot of these events are really for your family and for you all to celebrate together your accomplishments.
8. Wear comfy shoes and an outfit you love under your robe. No one wants to be in that polyester for too long :).
9. RELAX! SMILE! Be proud of yourself. You’ve worked hard and you deserve this moment. Breathe and take it all in because it is a moment you don’t want to forget.
10. It is okay to cry and you’ll probably do that most of your ride/flight home. For many people it doesn’t hit them that college has come to an end until it is time to pack and go to the next destination. Have some tissue handy and make sure that mascara is waterproof. Goodbyes are often hard and part of that is because you’re afraid of not knowing what happens next. Let it all out and then work on getting ready for the next adventure ahead of you. Remember when you left high school and were freaked out about college? Granted, going into “the real world” brings a different set of responsibilities BUT you attacked college and you’ll do the same this time around.
Just remember, that there is so much ahead of you. I thought life couldn’t get any better after college but it did. I like myself way more than I did at 22. College is AMAZING but those four years were not the best years of my life. Don’t get caught up in that often repeated story. As an alumni, remember to take advantage of the benefits of being connected with a college/university. Seek out an alumni chapter in your new city, perhaps sports are a big deal at your school and there are watch parties in your new home. You can donate money, sit on young alumni boards, and serve as an alumni interviewer for prospective students in your city.
Congratulations! Graduation is a milestone moment and whether you do or do not know what you’re doing after graduation, please enjoy this time. For many of you, it is the first of many graduations but I promise it will always be the most memorable.