The Final Stretch: Advise to graduates

There, just up ahead. So close you feel the empty ceremonial diploma that you’ll be receiving with cold sweaty palms, come early May. You have even begun receiving the dreaded school-wide emails from your good friends at the office of the registrar to apply… to graduate? Funny, you would think that leaving this place would mean the cease-fire of the application process as a whole. But, no. Alas, operation ‘the end’ has commenced for you, and the work is anything but over. Tis the season – graduation season that is; ring the alarm. 

With such a landmark of your life now on the horizon, it’s understandable for you to have trouble catching your breath from time to time. “What’s next” looms overhead from the mouths of every overarching authority figure in your life taking you aback every time as if you didn’t just answer it perfectly rehearsed form a few moments ago. You have a plan. But what if plans change? What if your life changes? What if everything changes? That, my friend, is where you stop, turn your brain off, and reboot. In other words, take a minute. You could probably use a breakthrough cheat code or two.

Let us begin with the structure: the arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of something complex. Let’s say that that complex something is your culminating semester of college. The parts and elements? Your workload and graduation to-do list. The arrangement and relations between it all, say it with me now, or-gan-i-zat-ion for a much-needed balance. With so many things on your agenda this semester, you need a way to get things done, off your agenda and off your mind. A planner or even a calendar hanging from a single plastic tack on your wall will work. You honestly just need something to take the thoughts from your head to your visual perspective in order to see them manifest as real dates, times, and plans that cannot sneak up on you in those minuscule moments of relaxation that you WILL need. When you write things down, it’s not just by some strange coincidence that your head starts to hurt a little less. You are alleviating space in your mind for other things to take place. Things your professor still has to jam pack into what’s left of your mind in these final days, and if you don’t alleviate at least some pressure things may very well begin to trickle out themselves. This leads to forgetting deadlines such as graduation registration, perhaps (February 1st), that may include a consequential fee ($20). It’s a slippery slope to easily avoid nonetheless. Get a planner (or a calendar). Student activities may have some free ones still lying around on the third floor of the Lowman Student Center. Get organized and get going. Much larger things lie in wait.

Also, to go along with said structural plans, create an automated mindset – a mindset that wakes up knowing what it has to do before you have the fraction of a moment that it takes laziness to take over and ask you if you really need that extra 30 minutes to wrestle your hair into a style decent enough for public appraisal. You know you must, but your bed somehow offers a different logic. One that involves you waking up with just enough time to brush your teeth, wash your face, and get to class on time. It doesn’t work like that, friend, especially when your upcoming quiz is not the only thing to worry about anymore. It takes 21 days to enforce a habit, or so ‘they’ say. Create one that benefits your mind, body, and future so that sleep-deprived arguments with yourself are no match for a body that goes into action without a conscious effort to do so.

Second, trust the process. You’ve been told this time and time again by friends and parents, even yourself from time to time, yet you still wake up anxious about everything, forcing you to attempt to gain control over things you simply can only grow to understand, work hard towards, and patiently wait for the chips to fall into place. Plant your seeds and await the harvest. You will reap what you sow, so sow away and stand firmly behind a strong belief in your own capabilities. You have gotten this far, after all.

Last, be kind to yourself this final semester. Yes, things are moving at a very unapologetic rate, with life constantly reminding you that it will chew you up and spit you out should you make one wrong move, but you have to understand the way you work and not let it run you off this campus. When I say these things, I mean to say that your journey these past 4-6 years are yours. Comparing yourself to any walk of life will rob you of one of the most important things you have — perspective. Look back only to see how far you have come and take your eyes off tunnel vision mode toward your goals only to enjoy these last few moments you will never live again. 

Now, these are all logical things that have most likely been told to you one way or another. The thing is though, as life takes ahold of us all with an unyielding grasp, we tend to forget all these things. We break down, become unorganized, panic, and in the grand scheme of things get too winded to make it in the last leg of the race. These are your cheat codes to hijack the system and conquer your graduation like a 4.0 champ… or 3.1, whatever. Just understand within yourself that it’s okay to fall apart because you probably will fall apart, so take a deep breath and rearrange the pieces this time so that they hold a little bit stronger.

Leave a Reply