Over Thanksgiving break, I was doing some homework at home (i.e., my parents’ home) when I needed something for the first time in a while: a glue stick.
I was partially appalled (my final year of undergraduate study involved work with a glue stick?) and partially clueless (where could I even find one?). I checked the boxes stuffed in my dad’s office closet, finding a glue stick, as well as my old high school, middle school, and elementary school poster-board projects.
Never did I think 6 years of horrendous science fair experiments could make me nostalgic, but they did. It hit me hard and fast: I only have 1 week left to be a student.
What’s Going Through My Head
Frankly, a lot of doubt. We’ve been students our entire lives. College was really just a step up to super student-dom: moving into the corporate world is like moving into the big leagues. No more professors to save the day with extra credit assignments or retakes; mess up a project in the real world, and it could be “bye-bye job.”
Also, as I discovered this summer, being a real person is a lot of work. I’m proud when I have time to make two dinners a week and vacuum my living room. How am I going to cook for myself, clean my own house, pay my rent, and still find time to have fun on the regular? There’s no more course schedule to organize my time.
I won’t lie—I thought about backing out once or twice. Of marching into the dean’s office and telling him I made a huge mistake, that I’d actually like to hand over 30 grand to take Yoga 101 with all my friends for the next 6 months. And then I repeat that statement, and remember something …
This School Ain’t Cheap
If you’re graduating early, there’s a reason for it. Maybe you have some amazing job offer lined up for January. Maybe you’re just sick of eating dining hall food. Or maybe, like me, you couldn’t pass up avoiding another $30,000+ student loan.
Look, I’d like to take yoga and put off my diploma until May, but that’d be handing in my “responsible young adult badge” before I even earned it. For me, it’s a dumb financial move and an even worse character move. Yes, the real world is a scary place, but it’s also our inevitable destination. Why burn money just to delay getting there?
Thinking about the money I’m saving is literally the only thing that kept me sane these past few weeks. That line of thinking might potentially lead to me transforming into Ebenezer Scrooge in a few years, but at present, it’s the truth. I wish I didn’t have to rank money so high on my priority list, but hey, welcome to the world of massive student debt.
Practicality’s bell is a’ringin’, my fellow early grads; here’s hoping it’s not as bad as it’s cracked up to be.
Fellow December grads: What’s keeping you sane as you conclude your college careers? Let us know in the comments.