Many senior columns are filled with memories from freshman, sophomore or even junior years of college. Graduating seniors wistfully yearn to go back in time and restart their Bradley careers. They want to relive the best four years of their lives and avoid trading this wonderful campus for the scary “real world.”
Well, that’s not my senior column.
I don’t wish that I could go back in time and redo my entire college experience. It’s not that I didn’t love my time at Bradley; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. There’s one big explanation as to why I’m not sad to graduate: Every stage of my life has been better than the last, and I have no reason to believe that this pattern will end any time soon.
Allow me to elaborate. If we start all the way from the beginning, preschool is a fun time, but not being able to read is a big hindrance to enjoying many aspects of our society.
Elementary school was a bit of an improvement with reading and hands-on learning, but it’s pretty frustrating to only use the bathroom when a teacher deems it acceptable.
We had more freedom in middle school with rotating classes and the ability to choose where we sat at lunch, but there are very few people that are more petty or dramatic than middle school girls.
Everyone seemed nicer in high school, as random lunch periods force you to sit with and make new friends, and teenagers slowly begin to care less about popularity and status. A wonderful, life-changing experience also occurs at age 16: the ability to drive yourself places, which affords more independence than you could’ve previously imagined.
The downsides to high school are, of course, studying for and taking the SAT or ACT and those dreaded Advanced Placement exams. Plus, you are expected to make a major life decision about what to do once high school ends, which could potentially determine the rest of your life’s path.
However, should you choose to carry on with higher education by attending college, life only upgrades from there. Dorm friends, fraternity parties, exciting extracurriculars, intriguing classes, enthusiastic professors, infinite freedom, the list goes on. College is a truly incredible place to be, especially Bradley University, and I completely understand why seniors are sad and reluctant to leave.
That being said, we tend to look back on the past with rose-colored glasses. If I’m being realistic, I would not want to relive sleepless nights in the library, trivial roommate drama or exhausting weekends of sorority recruitment. I cringe at memories of stressing over upcoming exams and trying to balance extracurriculars and classes with sleep and a social life.
You could not pay me enough to repeat getting my heart broken (twice), or going through the graduate school application process again. Although there are thousands of wonderful things about college, we should acknowledge the less fun aspects as well.
All of the well-adjusted older adults that I know do not recount college as the best four years of their lives. They reflect instead on getting married, having children or achieving important milestones in their careers. I am hopeful that my next stage of life at Texas Tech University, earning my Ph.D in experimental social psychology, will somehow be even better than my time as an undergraduate at Bradley University.
I also hope and assume that every stage of my life after graduate school will continue to improve, just as the pattern has demonstrated. I am optimistic that all of your lives will only get better from here as well.
Since this is my only shot at a senior column, I do want to use my platform to give a shout out to some of the groups that have made this stage of my life better than all previous ones.
Thank you to the Bradley psychology department, for giving me ample resources to learn how to conduct research, to explore my passions and to make lifelong professional connections and friends. To the women of Sigma Delta Tau, past and present, thank you for providing me with sisterhood, philanthropy and leadership opportunities.
Next, I appreciate all of my roommates from the past four years, as there is nothing more comforting than coming home to friends at the end of a long day. I’m also grateful to The Scout for allowing me to share my voice through writing for these past eight semesters.
Finally, thank you to the rest of my Hilltop family (you know who you are) for being my study buddies, my party pals, my partners in crime, my shoulders to cry on, my very best friends and, most importantly, my home away from home.
Thank you, Bradley University, for the best four years of my life so far.