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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Being a senior is freaking scary

We’ve only got a few more weeks in the semester, and I’m freaking out about it.
You see, I’m a senior—well, not technically, since I’m a transfer student, and I do have one more class to take over the summer. But for all intents and purposes, this is it for me; I’m almost done.
And that’s scary as hell. Graduating is a huge milestone and a huge turning point in life. As with any turning point, there are a lot of emotions that come with it—fear, hope, confusion, excitement, stress and more. The uncertainty of it all is overwhelming.
That really is the key—uncertainty. I think I speak for a lot of students when I say that even as I stare down a diploma with my chosen major on it, I still don’t have a damn clue what I want to do with my life. For those of you who do, well, let’s just say I’d pay a lot of money to switch brains.
What really freaks me out is that this really does seem like a personal problem. As much as I rag on this university, I don’t think they’re any worse at preparing students for post-graduation life than most others. It’s true that college job fairs are usually full of junky, exploitative companies. But career services seem to really help people, internship programs are great for getting a foot in the door and networking, and professors are always willing to be a reference.
So, while there is always room for institutional improvement, in this case there really isn’t anyone to blame for the stress and fear. It just comes down to an inevitable turn of events.
To some extent, though, blame for the sheer intensity of this important transition lies with our society. So many of us grow up being told that college is the best way to get ahead in life. We’re pushed into making early decisions about what we want to do for the rest of our lives, and it’s only when we start to express our fear and uncertainty well into college that anyone tells us, “It’s okay to not know yet.”
A lot of us, too, are pushed into getting “some sort of degree.” Often this means liberal arts, communication or niche academic disciplines which are valuable as ways to expand your mind and skill sets, but often difficult to find meaningful work in outside of academia.
This leaves so many of us holding the bag of invested time and incredible debt and facing the steep cliff of living expenses with little prospect of earning enough money to live. I’ve heard so many college students who are unsure about their carer prospects lament about not going into “the trades.”
I’ve been in this position too. In fact, I still have this idea at the back of my mind that one day—”maybe in my 50s,” I like to joke—I will ditch whatever career I’ve been in to become a blacksmith. I’ve always found it fascinating, and if you’re good enough, custom jobs or restoration work can net you a decent living.
But in all seriousness, I’m at a point now that I think a lot of other seniors are—trying and failing to find meaningful work, while trying to balance school and part-time jobs. I get constant emails from the communication department regarding job opportunities, but almost all of them are some combination of severely underpaid or part-time, asking for years of experience in their applicants or mind-numbing, corporate busywork.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll do what I have to do. I’m not above taking what I can get. But I can’t say that it’s not profoundly discouraging to enter the workforce like this, especially since I still don’t quite know what I really want to do.
Ultimately, it will come down to experimentation—and this is what I’ve been told by pretty much everybody anyway. All people in my position can do is to try out job after job, figuring out what we like and what we’re good at, and making connections that will hopefully lead to more work. After all, it’s said that the vast majority of jobs are not listed on any job board or website.
So yeah, I’m pretty scared. But I am also looking forward to my future. The horizon is fuzzy, but there is a horizon—and who knows, I may even like what I find beyond it. And for anyone else who is graduating with their bachelors, I hope you will too.

About the Contributor
James Cerone, Opinions Editor