As the school semester restarts this fall — whether online or in-person — it will be a hard one, especially for seniors. Whether you’re taking a gap year, attending graduate school, going into the work field, or are unsure of what you’re doing after this year, these times are adding extra stress. But senior year only comes once in your life and it should be enjoyable no matter what. Last year, I committed to living in the moment during my senior year. While the pandemic disrupted most of my plans, I still enjoyed my final school year. Everyone is different, but here are some things you should keep in mind to help you enjoy your last year as an undergraduate college student.
1. Take advantage of opportunities only available to college students.
One of the biggest benefits of being a college student is having opportunities that you don’t necessarily have after graduation. Some of these include the ability to participate in various clubs, volunteer, intern, and utilize other extracurricular activities that help you explore your interest and bring you joy. College is so much more than the classroom — it’s also a great time to discover your passions. Even if your school year will be primarily online, many opportunities like internships are still available and they can benefit you greatly. So make sure you take advantage of those.
2. Connect with your friends and mentors.
Connecting with friends, classmates, and professors is harder now than it was pre-COVID-19, but it’s still possible. If your school has access to Zoom or another video call service, consider taking some time to talk with your network. Phone calls, social media messages, and other digital ways to communicate go a long way in staying in touch with others. If possible, you can meet up with friends in person while still physically distancing. Whatever you do, stay in contact with your friends. Time is precious — not just concerning our current global situation but also because you’re graduating this year.
3. Make time for hobbies.
One of the benefits of learning from home is that you have access to things in your house you wouldn’t have at school. Have a sewing project sitting in your basement? Pull it out and start figuring out how to work it. Want to learn knitting but don’t know how? Check out a YouTube video and get on with it. It’s always important to make time for hobbies, but they’re especially helpful now as a way to escape from the chaos of the world and help you relax.
4. Give yourself some grace.
Attending school during a pandemic, skyrocketing unemployment rates, mental and physical stress, and everything else going on these days is a lot to deal with all at once. Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel. Some days may be happier than others, others may be harder, and some days are just a whirlwind of emotions. There’s no “right” way to feel right now. Even as I encourage you to enjoy senior year, if you’re feeling crappy right now, let yourself feel it. Living in the moment is so crucial now more than ever. If you’re present for all of it, you will automatically make your last college year memorable.
College is a unique experience, and personally, I wanted to savor all the time I had left right until the end. It didn’t end as expected, but the moments I spent with my friends, learning in classes, and other school-related activities are memories I’m so glad I made. I hope you can find a way to love your senior year in all its mess and glory because all we really have is now. Living in the moment is hard, but when you do it, it’s truly one of the best ways to live.