What NOT to do your senior year

Senior communication major Christian Anderson’s graduation cap sits with a Class of 2017 tassel. Anderson advises next year’s seniors don’t get too comfortable, focus less on their careers and avoid an existential crisis. Photo by Christian Anderson.

Senior communication major Christian Anderson’s graduation cap sits with a Class of 2017 tassel. Anderson advises next year’s seniors don’t get too comfortable, focus less on their careers and avoid an existential crisis. Photo by Christian Anderson.

Hey, there. My name is Christian Anderson, and I’m worried.

Why am I worried? Well, I’m a senior on the cusp of graduation. And I’m still finding myself.

For many of us, this is the first time certainty is thrown aside and skepticism rears its ugly head. Most of us have always had the next step in front of us, with school as a major part of that path.

College, and specifically senior year, is filled with tons of advice. Some of it is completely relevant, but some of it just adds to the list of stress-inducing information.

Throughout my four years here at Westminster College, I have been given plenty of advice about what to do to be “successful.” Although such advice can be helpful, sometimes hearing what NOT to do actually brings clarity.

Of course this list of what NOT to do doesn’t apply to everyone. We are all individuals and fight our own battles. I do hope, however, this list makes senior year a little less stressful for you.

Don’t get comfortable

I feel like I’m not alone when I say being comfortable is nice. It’s okay to be comfortable. In fact, most people prefer it. But there is a difference between comfort and settling.

Aiming for comfort can limit your progression and lead to a life of monotony. Part of reaching the full level of self-actualization is getting out of your “comfort zone.”

Being uncomfortable is tough—I know. But when you put yourself into situations where you challenge yourself mentally or physically, you may stumble upon something that completes you.

Before I came to college, I was dead set on sports broadcasting. But after I spent some time out of my comfort zone, I found out I had a passion for producing multimedia. My post-grad future is very different from what I envisioned when I started here at Westminster, and I couldn’t be happier.

Don’t focus on your career

The goal for most prospective graduates is to be gainfully employed. Money is sort of a necessity when it comes to staying alive.

Many of us went to college to pursue our passions, but one thing many college students forget is that different majors have different paths to employment. Don’t become demotivated if your path looks different from someone else’s, because you never know what lies ahead.

College students come from all backgrounds, which means they all have different ways of navigating life, but the ideology of “the grass is always greener” can get students stuck in their own heads. You see a friend with a great job and assume they are “better” than you. I can already hear my dad: “When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.”

I’ve spent my entire undergrad experience at Westminster—and from what I’ve seen, we are all professionals ready to change the world.

Don’t lose your last chance at peace

The time between graduating college and entering the workforce is incredibly unique. It is one of the few times in life when you can choose what you do and how you do it.

As students, many of our lives have been laid out in advance. Many of us knew what college we wanted to go to, what classes we wanted to take and what we wanted to pursue as a profession.

This buffer zone between graduation and full-time employment could be your chance to do something you will never get to do at any other time in your life. You could take a trip somewhere you’ve dreamed of seeing or spend extended time with the people you love.

Once you’re in the world of full-time employment, you may not have the time to do all the things you’ve dreamed of. Don’t let this opportunity at serenity willfully slip through your hands.

Don’t be a PROcrastinator

(I’m going to take a second for you to appreciate the pun for this section… finished?)

Are you a PROcrastinator? Well if you are, it’s time to change your ways.

College can become much easier if you are deliberate with your time and keep a strict schedule. In my opinion, life in general becomes easier when you think ahead.

When I first started at Westminster, I brought in some bad high school habits. Being a PROcrastinator was one of my biggest faults, but after some dedication I think ahead rather than being stuck in the now.

College is meant to be a process, so you should handle it as such. The more thought you put into your class/work scheduling and setting deadlines, the more in control of your life you’ll feel.

Of course, there are some things you can’t change. But stay focused on the issues that are in your control and life will seem to make more sense.

Don’t have an existential crisis

Breathe in, breathe out.

College isn’t supposed to be easy. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been wide awake in the middle of the night wondering about my future, but those stress-filled, anxiety-inducing nights are why I’m here today. I want to take my experience and spread it—and if it’s enough to affect one person’s time in college, then I’ve succeeded.

In my opinion, the reality is that we are accustomed to plans in life, but becoming a professional in your field often doesn’t go by plan. Part of being successful is rolling with the punches and adapting when necessary.

During your time in college, you may feel like you aren’t doing what you want to do—and that’s fine. This is the next step on your journey, not your last.