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The second semester senior: You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here

 Written by    January 28, 2015

This has been a very interesting past few weeks for me being a second semester senior. I’ve been wanting to blog about it for a while now, but struggling with putting this experience into words. Sometimes there are so many things to worry about (thesis, job applications) that I’m not sure I myself get time to decode what I’m experiencing.

So I guess maybe I should just fill you in on what my life has been like the last few weeks. Really, everything has begun to revolve around one word: thesis. As a dual degree student, I need to complete a master’s thesis before I can graduate. This means I’m only taking two real classes and spending the rest of my time “working.”

But when you’re trying to write your first huge research project, working is 75 percent writer’s block, 10 percent rereading the research, and then maybe the last 15 percent actually spent putting words on the page.

Because of my lack of class time and thus fairly unstructured life, my thesis follows me everywhere I go, even when it’s not invited. One day strings along into the next, and I often find myself forgetting the difference between a weekend and a Wednesday. Even if I go out to grab a bite to eat with my friends, I feel like I have to ask for an extra seat to hold all of the thesis anxieties I’ve been carrying around.

When I’m not thinking about my thesis, often my mind is on the job search. I’ve told myself I will start sending out applications in February, and well, that date is looming close. As someone with a degree in history it’s often terrifying just trying to find job openings, let alone applying.

It’s weird that for the first time since I was five years old, I will not be going to school next fall. I’m very excited to see what the real world feels like, but also a little terrified. As someone whose friends are mostly moving onto grad school, this is especially weird, because no one really knows what’s going on for me right now.

With all of the academic stress still following me from my thesis, I often forget that in a few months I actually will graduate and leave both Ohio State and college life behind. Honestly, I’m a little glad that the thesis provides a distraction from this realization.

I’ve had my share of rough moments in university life, but I’ve also had my share of highs. I cannot believe that I might have to leave my friends, my classes, this campus, my apartment, and the city of Columbus next year. I hate walking through campus, because I am reminded that the comfortable feeling of familiarity when I pass Mirror Lake or my freshman dorm will soon belong to a new group of students that does not include me.

After four years I feel like I’ve finally got the hang of this college thing. Why does it need to end?

And that, I suppose, is what it feels like to be a graduating senior.


A note on the title: When I was writing this blog post, a particular quote from high school popped into my head. I was an avid member of the Drama Club, and every time the crew left a build, our director would say, “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.” I thought about this a lot when I graduated high school, and I really think it’s still pretty fitting.  I really can’t stay at Ohio State as much as I want to. That’s not how life works.

A lot of people know this line from a song by the band Semisonic called Closing Time. In that song they also say, “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” So without getting too cheesy, I think maybe keeping that in mind is the best way to deal with such a big change as graduation.

Author, Personal, Research, Stress, The Future

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