I’m coming up on my last semester here at Mercyhurst University.
It’s been a long, tiring, transformative journey, and it is almost at its end.
The common thing you hear about university is that it’s going to change you.
Truth is, it’s not one major thing that it changes about you, but hundreds of small things that culminate in you undergoing a transformation whether you wanted it to happen or not.
I think that the biggest change is that you have to take responsibility for so much more than you had to in high school.
There’s all the small stuff, obviously, like how you’re now responsible for doing all the dishes and doing all of your own laundry.
But then there’s the bigger things, like how you’re expected to deal with a much heavier workload under much stricter deadlines.
In high school, you had a lot of wiggle room as to when or where you could go wrong.
In university, not so much.
Yet, I feel that the idea that professors don’t care if you pass or not isn’t accurate.
All of my professors have taken a vested interest in my education and success.
They’ve reached out to me if I’ve been struggling, given me bonus opportunities to catch up and even extended deadlines to help me deal with my cramped schedule.
Maybe things are different outside of the English and Political Science departments — and all the STEM professors match the stereotype — but I’m not convinced of that.
From my experience, if you reach out to your professors and make a genuine effort to do your best, they will do their all to assist you.
Then there’s the added responsibilities that emerge as you enter adulthood.
If you didn’t have a job at the start of your college career, there’s a very good change you’re going to have one by the end of your senior year.
This is partly because you’ll need the money to pay for a car, gas, food and other such commodities.
It will also be because you’ll need that work experience if you want to get a job after graduation.
Also, there’s the whole crushing student debt thing to deal with, which is hard to do if you don’t have a job.
Much of what I just said could be applied to getting a car as well.
If you’ve managed to avoid getting a car by riding with others or using public transportation, you’ll almost certainly be pushed into a situation by graduation in which you’ll need to get a car.
You need a car not just to take yourself to school and various social events every day, but also because you basically need a car to get a job post-graduation.
In almost every job interview I’ve ever had, I’ve been asked if I have reliable transportation, meaning a car.
It’ll be much harder for you to get a job after graduation if you don’t have one, so onto the responsibilities pile it goes.
That’s before we get into taking care of your car, and everything it entails.
I hope you know a mechanic, or are able to do your own maintinence.
How many of you reading this had bank accounts at the start of your college careers?
I’d think the ratio would be something close to 50/50, with many incoming students not seeing a reason for them yet.
By the end of your senior year, you’ll basically need to have one.
If you plan on doing a work study on campus or doing any sort of work on campus that involves you getting paid, you all but need a bank account.
That means you need to open an account, get a card that goes with it and manage your finances on your own time.
It’s very mundane, but having your own bank account and finances in that account to manage is a massive responsibility you have to manage.
And let’s not even get into credit cards and building credit, which you’re going to want to do if you want to have any sort of reasonable credit score after you graduate.
On top of that, you have the social circles that university thrusts you into, and those add on plenty of new responsibilities as well.
I was always the shy, introverted kid in high school.
You had to pry words out of me like prying a trapped man out of his car.
Yet, four years later, I’m getting invited to go to Wednesdays at the Cornerstone with friends.
All of a sudden I have social responsibilities to deal with, and it dawns on me just how far away I am from my younger self.
Social responsibilities are one thing that you don’t really have to think about when you’re younger.
You don’t have to worry about meeting up with a certain person at a certain time to talk about a certain thing. Your parents take care of all of that for you.
So it really is a sign that you’ve changed when all of those social responsibilities are being loaded onto you.
Then there is the matter of the miscellaneous stuff.
Things like my commitment to the Merciad and the Lumen.
As an editor for both of these publications, I have a responsibility to uphold, both to myself and to my fellow editors.
These new responsibilities don’t all come onto you at once.
If you’re a freshmen, you don’t have to worry about taking on all of this stuff at the same time.
Just be aware that this stuff is coming and that it is going to change you.
I can safely say that it’s changed me.
Four years ago, I was just a young kid by comparison, drifting into university without any bonds or connections to anyone or anything beyond my family and small ring of friends.
Now I’m an editor for a newspaper, an editor for a literary magazine, a cashier at GetGo and, perhaps strangest of all to a younger me, a person that can buy what he wants when he wants with money he has in a bank account.
All of this is possible because I took up extra responsibilities.
It feels as if all I have to do at this point to bury that young version of me forever is to take out some stocks, but I’m not quite ready for that yet.
At the end of the day, you have a great deal of expectations placed on you as a senior student.
It can be, and often is, an incredibly stressful experience.
People expect a lot of you now that you’re an adult in all but name.
Yet, those expectations shape and change you.
While it may seem needless or impossible to take up all of these additional responsibilities on top of your school life, it is well worth it in the end.
These extra opportunities not only give you an edge in the post-graduation job hunt, but they will help you grow as a person.