Grade Level: Fifth-Year Senior
College Life | 

Grade Level: Fifth-Year Senior

It's not the time it takes to get somewhere, it's the direction you're going.

Graduating from college in the traditional four years isn't always a given. Whether it's due to switching schools or majors, constant curriculum changes, or completing prerequisites for graduate school, four years to graduation doesn't always seem doable. As a fifth-year senior, here are a few things you'll realize as you attempt to make it through that final stretch.

Everyone around you will seem like babies. Newsflash: They are babies. Every freshman around you was still in middle school when you were graduating high school. Don't allow yourself to feel old. I prefer the term "seasoned".

Don't get upset at the babies (aka freshman) turning the library into a social event. Remember, you once did the same thing. As a fifth-year senior, you'll find that getting your work done in cozy coffee shops is much more appropriate, and fun.

You might feel lonelier. As a fifth year, you'll do more things alone, like studying, eating, grocery shopping, and even working out. But this isn't necessarily a bad thing. When the day comes for you to move to a new city and start a new career, you'll already feel comfortable enough to dine by yourself or try out a new workout class alone. To be honest, the time alone I've had in my fifth year has given me more time to get in touch with myself. I've realized I needed this extra year to understand my passions and where they could take me next in the post-college chapter of my life.

Going out is different. When you do have time to go out, it will be a lot different than it was your first four years: Two-For-One weeknight specials at the bars will turn into a glass of red wine on the couch and bad reality TV. Your body will reject going out multiple nights in a row and you might be the oldest one at the campus bars. But this doesn't mean you can't have fun anymore, it just means it's time to mix it up. Find out which bars downtown are known for an older crowd of med students and young professionals and grace them with your presence.

Don't beat yourself up. Sure, some of your friends are living in cool places and working their new 9-5, but that doesn't automatically put them in a better place than you. I'm sure they get jealous that you still get winter breaks, Fridays off, and hot athletes in your group projects. Remember, time will pass, and you have the rest of your life to work. Enjoy where you are right now.

This extra time in school is happening for a reason. Maybe you need more time to understand where your career is going, more time to understand who you are, or more time to meet people who will make a difference in your life. Remember, it's not the time it takes to get somewhere, it's the direction you're going.

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Preparing For The End Of Senior Year

End it all with a bang.

Just like everyone assured me, my four years of college flew by. Each year went progressively faster, and then the final months of senior year came and went like Taylor Swift's love interests.

In particular, the last month of senior year, especially senior week, elapsed so swiftly that I felt like everything was out of my control.

There were faces of friends I didn't get to memorize and bid farewell to. I never got a chance to try that restaurant downtown I always told myself I would. I didn't get the opportunity to play in that state park I wanted to. I didn't consider logistics for moving out until the day I had to pack up and get out. I never got to tell that boy how special he was to me.

I had fun that last month, but I wish someone had warned me about its rush, or that I could better prepare for the craziness and mad dash of festivities.

Truthfully, some of the insanity cannot be prevented. Graduating from college is more than just an unbelievable feat -- it's a wild concept to grasp. It's a crossover into the adult world of work and self-sufficiency. There aren't set time frames for accomplishing things or anyone to hold your hand and tell you what to do. You could be saying goodbye to friends ready to spread out across the globe. It can be sad and difficult to fully grasp.

That being said, graduating is partly exciting, and the last month of school most certainly can be a stellar time. You just have to be ready for it all, and hopefully these tips with help you prepare for your last month in college.

Schedule your last week (or so) in advance.
Figure out what you want to do and who you want to do it with as far in advance as you can. If you are part of a few different social groups, try and make sure to set the agenda to get face time with them all. Plan on visiting places and doing things you've always wanted to do on or around campus, but never got around to.

Make a plan for graduation weekend with your family and friends' families. If there is anything you want to do that requires actual advanced planning and reservations, do it up A$AP Rocky. This way you can feel like you used your time wisely and got to have fun with all the people you found special.

But don't be afraid to abandon the schedule.
If you're having fun doing something or realize you want to make time to do something spur of the moment, do it. Don't let a plan stop you from living in the moment and feeling spontaneous. College is a lot about impromptu adventures, so soak it up.

Visit your favorite spots.
Around my campus and college town, there were unbelievable places to see, eat, and be. Start visiting up your favorite spots before you run out of time.

Make a plan for moving out.
My roommates and I never really talked about or considered the logistics for packing up and getting out. Trust me though, it's a lot more than moving your stuff into your car and leaving.

Figure out with your landlord any procedures you have to take. You might consider coordinating your physical move-out with your roommates, so there aren't five families all trying to lug stuff through one door, hallway and elevator.

It might also be a good idea to begin packing up in advance to avoid the huge process when you want to be focusing on the moment (and not stressing about leaving on a deadline).

Start saying goodbye early.
I absolutely made sure to bid my very best college friends a farewell before my departure. However, there were a lot of good friends I never got to say goodbye to. I just always felt like it was too soon and that I would get the chance later.

Those last few days of school are a whirlwind of activities, so time with friends who aren't in your best best friend circle take a back seat. Begin the process of parting ways by having sentimental moments and saying bye "just in case we don't get the chance later."

Tell special people how you feel about them.
If you have crushes or love interests, now's the time to tell them before you go. Tell people you think are cute, "Hey, you're really cute! I've always thought that, and want to let you know before we graduate." Muster up the courage to let someone know how special they were/are to you, or how much you'll miss them.

Go in for the kiss. You might never say these people again and even if nothing comes from it, I think you'll be happy you did.

Be careful.
The end of senior year and senior week is definitely a time to have fun and celebrate, but please be smart. We've all heard sad stories of seniors who never got the chance to make it to graduation because of a careless incident or mistake.

Like the boy a year older than me who went for a solo kayak ride in the middle of the night days before graduation, and went missing. Or the people who drink or smoke themselves into the hospital. Or people who go around having sex without condoms because they feel invincible.

Put your safety and healthy before anything else. The risk is not worth it.

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5 Thoughts That Go Through Your Mind As Junior Year Ends

It's far more than senioritis.

While I by no means am here to discredit the overwhelming wave of thoughts that must go through a graduating senior's mind, I am here to make the case that there may be just as much going on in the minds of rising seniors.

By the time you're graduating college you've had time to come to terms with the fact that the real world is quickly approaching. The end of junior year is when the realization that you won't be in college forever really smacks you in the face.

For those of you who have been there and done that or for those of you there now, I'm sure you'll identify with these five points below.

1. You've only got a year to get it together.
This can be a pretty frightening thing to face. For as mature as we may feel we are, we've still got a lot of growing up to do before we're really ready for the whole "adulting" thing.

We've go to start to learn that getting blackout drunk every weekend really isn't the best decision and that as much as we want to blow off our responsibilities to hang out with our friends, we're about a year away from that being grounds for losing our real world jobs.

It's time to get our act together so we know how to be real, productive adults when the time comes.

2. You really should have been saving more money the last few years.
All that money spent on booze, food, and clothes is really going to be missed when it comes time to pay moving expenses and other "new to the real world" bills. Never will your wallet ache as much as it does when it realizes you've burnt through hundreds and maybe even thousands of dollars you could really use now.

All I can say is really try to cut down on spending this next year, you'll be happy you did later.

3. This is your last year with some of your closest friends.
Don't freak yourself out too much here. Will you be living with all of your friends once you graduate? Probably not. Will you all end up in the same city or even the same state? Most likely not all of you.

But the friendships you make in college are the kind of friendships that distance can't change. These are still the people who will be in your wedding party and the ones you'll call when you need someone to talk to. Distance doesn't do much when it comes to bonds like this.

4. Did you really study the right thing?
Some people spend their whole college career working themselves up about this. If you haven't faced this fear yet, you will. Don't worry though, it's completely normal. Doubting the decision you've made and the path you've taken is a waste of time.

You've spent almost four years studying and preparing for the field you're about to go into and there is no looking back now. You made the choice you made for a reason and any stressing you're doing is just a normal, natural fear that comes with big life changes.

5. Should you maybe be open to more most grad options?
The answer is yes. Limiting yourself to only one job in one place could a) leave you unemployed and b) cause you to miss out on some great opportunities. Be open-minded about the future and open to opportunities you may not have been open to previously.

Allowing yourself to explore what's out there is best thing you can do for yourself after graduation.

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Why You Should Take a Gap Year

There's no time like the present.

YOCO. You only college once. You only have four years of undergraduate schooling to make lifelong friends, drink cheap beer, and be a young and free adult. What happens after college? You get a job or an internship and start working while you work your way up in the industry until you retire 50 years later.

OK, maybe that was a bit dramatic, but in a sense, it's true. Once you are done with college, unless you go back for graduate school, you almost always get a job and that's where your fun, carefree life full of Natty Light and rooftop parties begins to come to a halt.

But is doesn't have to be that way. This is the time to do all those things that you have always wanted to do. Stop saying, "Oh I'll do it someday when I'm older." Chances are it won't ever happen if you keep saying that.

Before you take that internship that you don't really want, or before you take that job that doesn't really interest you, think about what you really want to do in order to make yourself happy and the places you've always wanted to go.

Graduate with your class, go party with your friends, and take a gap year. A lot can happen in one year, and you can discover unimaginable, beautiful things about yourself. We have our whole lives to work. Why not just take one year for us?

Why not travel to California and see the Hollywood sign if that's what you've always wanted? Why not buy a ticket to go to London and see Big Ben? Why not visit Belize or Panama? Why not bike across the United States? Why not? We are so young. Why not do these things now?

I spent four months studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and that was all it took for me to understand how important it is to make your dreams a reality. You learn things that cannot be taught in a classroom; you learn things about yourself that you didn't even know existed; and you discover what it really feels like to live and be free.

Go see the world. There is too much out there for it to be left unseen.

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College Life | 

The Evolution of Drinking

...from freshman to senior year.

What's college without a little alcohol now and then? Over the span of four (or so) years, drinking habits change just as much as we do. Below, a short gif chronology.

Freshmen

The typical freshman drinker probably didn't do much of it in high school. They come to college maybe never even having a sip. Drinking is usually done in unfinished basements of that one friend from Ochem. The first of getting a "minor consumption" is a real and imminent threat. Some of your friends might be brave enough to get a fake I.D.

Sophomores

The novelty has worn off and an overconfident sophomore has taken its place. It is the year of underage purgatory. You're so close to 21, you can almost taste it. (Literally. You can taste the countless, legally-ordered, risk-free g&ts at the bar. But I digress.) Sophomore year is the year of the frathouse. The consumption of alcohol is usually provided in a shot glass, or a used solo cup, given away by an overly generous frat bro. Don't forget those trendy X's in Sharpie on your hands that won't come off for a week.

Juniors

This is usually the year of turning 21, unless you're a genius. Something happens this year. It's like we completely forgot how to drink all over again. If you pay for any of your drinks on your birthday, you are doing something wrong. The bars are the greatest thing to ever happen. How did we ever go to parties? Bars are so much better.

Senior

Year four, and the drinking has finally slowed down. The preferred method usually involves a glass (or two, let's be real) of wine and Netflix. On the rare night of heavy drinking, the next morning is followed by "Oh god I'm so old" and "I can't drink like I use to". The bars become the worst place on campus. They take all your money and good judgement.

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Freshman Year vs. Senior Year in a Sorority

Just because you're "sisters" doesn't mean you will be best friends.

Freshman Year
Ah, freshman year, when everything is new and exciting. For some girls, being in a sorority is a dream come true. You get to meet a ton of girls who are in the same situation as you and who are just as eager to make friends. Girls come into college so hopeful, with so many expectations when it comes to greek life; whether it be meeting your future bridesmaids or going to functions with cute fraternity guys.

After the craziness of recruitment ends and you finally find your "home," you're blinded by the excitement of it all. You can't wait to wear your letters and bond with all your new "sisters". At first, the mandatory activities don't seem like much of a time commitment and are actually something to look forward to; a chance to get out of your dorm and socialize with your new friends. For me, a freshman living 10 hours from home at a school of almost 25,000 students, a sorority was a great way to make a big school feel smaller. The organized events forced me to step out of my comfort zone and get involved.

The functions and mixers freshman year were mainly focused around who you and all of your friends were going to bring, not to mention finding the perfect outfit to go along with the theme. And in between doing that, you were deciding if you should try to use your fake ID at the venue or not.

Regardless of getting away with it or not, it was easy to see the best in every sorority-related situation freshman year. You're happy to be with new friends and finally experiencing all that college has to offer. Freshman year leaves you feeling hopeful for the three more sorority years to come...

Senior Year
By the time you get to senior year, the excitement has worn off and reality has sunk in. Most girls have already met their friends and have realized there's way more to college than just Greek life. With the real world approaching, a sorority is no longer on a senior's list of top priorities.

At some point between your freshman and senior year, you arrive at the conclusion that not everyone in your chapter is going to be your BFF. There are simply too many girls to know everyone on a personal level.

In my experience, all of the seniors in my sorority, including myself, spent their senior year making up any excuse possible to get out of chapter or any other mandatory event without getting fined. It was crucial that you figured out how to get away with doing the bare minimum while also still being able to benefit from the perks of the sorority.

One of those perks is the functions. The functions are easily one of the best things that comes out of staying in a sorority all four years. When you are finally 21, you don't have to worry about getting written up by standards for drinking at functions. I know my friends and I spent most of our time taking advantage of the $2 beer and wine cash bar at every function our senior year.

Source: giphy.com

All in all, it should be considered an accomplishment to stay in a sorority all four years. Although the expectations are a little different than the reality, you do meet a lot of people and make friends along the way.