Senioritis: the toughest thing UC Irvine students and others everywhere deal with during their final year of college. Yes, it may feel even more challenging than finishing that 25-page research paper or finding a job in this economy. With this in mind, every college student’s experiences play out differently and even more so does it vary within each college.
Let’s hear from current seniors and recent alumni from UC Irvine about ways that they’ve battled and overcome senioritis amidst a global pandemic.
1. Watching YouTube Videos
A classic de-stressing activity, watching YouTube videos continues to prove a trusty way to reset after a long day of Zoom classes. Who knew that the first YouTube upload and viral video craze from 2005 would become 2021’s hidden savior? In this day and age where we rely on technology more than ever, having entertainment available at the tips of our fingers provides a convenient way to take our minds off the usual school stresses. Who doesn’t spend an hour going down a YouTube spiral every once in a while?
“Personally, I’d watch anything that gets my mind off the task at hand, let it be comedic sketches, music videos, sports, etc. I mostly watch videos that crack me up, and the Key and Peele sketches do the job,” UCI senior Weixuan Tan said.
And with screen-sharing now available, you can easily turn this solo activity into a social one. I know I definitely spent well-needed time recharging throughout senior year mindlessly watching funny videos with friends.
2. Playing Video Games
Giving yourself quality time away from all the schoolwork definitely equates to a great way to avoid burning out. Whether you enjoy playing on a video game console, a PC or your phone, there exists tons of games out there for students to enjoy. With all the busy buzz happening throughout senior year, no wonder we’re turning to video games to find some reprieve from reality. Fan favorites throughout the past year include Animal Crossing: New Horizons which enables players to spend their time fishing, catching bugs, watering flowers and do so much more on their own personal island.
Another favorite includes Among Us, a Mafia-like strategy game in which a group of 10 must distinguish the “imposter” in the group before they kill everyone. Although building an aesthetic island and trying to find a murderous imposter exist on opposite ends of the gaming spectrum, both of these games share multiplayer features that students value more than ever as an option for social-distance-friendly hangouts. Students across the nation definitely feel a little more at ease paying off those Animal Crossing home loans than worrying about student debt.
3. Applying to Jobs and Internships
If doing a relaxing activity would bring you down a procrastination hole and give you more anxiety about your productivity, perhaps being productive in other ways can help you stay motivated instead. Goodness knows that having something other than homework on your to-do list can help get you out of that productivity limbo. While it seems harder to tackle the job and internship application process, feel free to take the opportunity to explore newly remote positions you couldn’t have done before. For example, look into careers as a software engineering intern in Washington, D.C., or even a content manager for a company in London.
“I’ve been looking for summer internships in D.C. since I’m participating in the UCDC program this summer. I’m definitely focused on opportunities pertaining to sustainability, climate change and environmental protection!” UCI senior Tingyao Li said.
You know what they say: a crisis presents the best time to get creative with your next steps. Overcoming the challenges of remote applications just might spark the desire to keep moving forward.
4. Communicating with Parents
In a time when a lot of us must stay holed up inside with family, your parental figures have the potential to be a strong part of your support system. Connecting with other people includes family members, and now might be the best time to really express to them how challenging it’s been to get through this senior year.
“One thing that I am thankful for that is getting me through the times of COVID and online learning is parental support. My parents understand that the times are difficult and it is tough on us, the students, to have such drastic change to [our] learning environment. They offer all the support they can to let me recover and adjust to the new situation,” Tan said.
At best, your parents will ease up and understand the struggles you’re trying to overcome. But if nothing else, we hope they’ll stop busting into the room during a Zoom class.
5. (Missing) Going to School-Wide Concerts
While large gatherings like concerts have sadly been cancelled this year, UCI seniors quote these events as ones they looked forward to to wrap up their final year at college. Like any school, UCI has its fair share of social events like the Summerlands concert hosted by the Associated Students of UCI (ASUCI) and movie nights at Aldrich Park. Students definitely feel the absence of these events to hang out and have fun with friends, especially the seniors who anticipated going to those concerts and movie nights one last time.
“Something that’s definitely kind of rough is that our school hasn’t held any concerts. We always have three in-person concerts throughout the school year, and I went to as many as I could my first through third years here. But being able to go out with friends to those concerts is something I couldn’t do as a senior this year. I miss that feeling of being at a concert and having artists come perform at your school,” Li said.
Many seniors out there can relate to those feelings of disappointment for missing out on these traditional school-wide events. While not much can be done about getting back these concert experiences, virtual concerts exist in the meantime. If not this, looking forward to the post-pandemic times and reminiscing on the nostalgia of those great concert outings offer a hope for when concert listings will be up and running once again.
6. Staying Connected with Friends
Without friends there as a support system, I don’t know how I would’ve made it through senior year and I’m sure many seniors share this feeling too. Even though it feels easy to draw back from social interactions in a remote learning setting, now more than ever might be the time to really reach out and check in on your friends.
“If I had known that COVID would have changed the way we live now, I would have definitely spent more time trying to make connections on campus and get closer to my friend groups. It was really tough living inside a room the whole time and not being able to leave to meet your friends,” recent UCI graduate Eric Mendez said.
We’ve definitely felt the physical absence of our close friends with the sudden turn of the decade. But although we can’t see friends in person as easily these days, at least we have the wonders of technology to rely on to stay connected with them. Just talking it out with people you trust who support you can make the difference between making it through the week and losing all motivation for both UCI students and college students around the world.
7. Getting Donuts at Newport Beach
As a school located in Southern California near the Pacific Coast, this list wouldn’t be complete without something beach-related to do at UCI. While you can go along with the standard beach happenings like swimming in the ocean, building a sand sculpture or biking along the coast, UCI students also enjoy their own casual senior traditions.
“One of the main things I was looking forward to was going to the Seaside Donuts at Newport Beach at the end of the year. We go to the beach, eat a bunch of donuts on the pier and go to the clubs right next door as a way to say farewell to our school,” Mendez said.
Socializing at a beach full of people and going clubbing might not be recommended at this point in time, but future seniors can keep this donut ritual in mind as a chill way to end your days at UCI. And for those in the L.A. and Irvine area during this time, you may still have the opportunity to relive this UCI classic.
8. Being Kind to Themselves
Honestly, trying to finish off your last year at college while dealing with the pandemic chips away at your soul. Although cliche, all the emails didn’t lie when they called this an unprecedented time. That being said, you deserve those moments of allowing yourself some grace. This year’s seniors carry a lot on their shoulders from post-grad anxieties to the expectations of carrying on with schoolwork like normal…when all concepts of what’s “normal” have been thrown out the window.
“The biggest thing is giving myself grace, and I remember someone shared this quote with me: ‘You would never tell other people all the negative things you say to yourself.’ That really resonated with me,” Li said.
It does seem disheartening when you feel like you’re not meeting your own standards, but know that you’re putting in the best effort possible in this time of chaos. I’d say this characterizes a pretty admirable feat.
9. Taking Grad Pics Around Campus
As the school year rounds up, you’ll often see lots of seniors putting on fancy graduation outfits and taking aesthetic photos around campus. But with the circumstances of a global pandemic, seniors need to limit how they go about those end-of-the-year pics too. Sure, you can always skip out on the photos or take them at a different time, but the significance just doesn’t hit the same.
“Though I can always go back to campus to take pictures after I graduated, it does not mean and feel the same as taking pictures while you are enrolled,” Tan said.
So if you do have the opportunity to be on campus, make the most of your time and take the chance to take those photos…while keeping up with social distancing guidelines, of course. Looking for Insta-worthy places around UCI? Check out the Infinity Fountain in Aldrich Park. Probably the most recognizable fountain on campus, this spot also claims the title of being home to Harold and Maude, the school ducks. Yes, actual ducks inhabit this fountain, beloved by all students. Feel free to model with them in those grad photos!
10. Feeling Proud of What They’ve Already Accomplished
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you’re putting in the best effort possible and I find that admirable! Looking back on the things you already accomplished both before and after COVID shows that you can make it in the face of adversity. Keep those positives in mind to balance out the negative moments. And if you identify with someone like me who has trouble giving credit to your accomplishments, seeing yourself from someone else’s perspective can shed some light on your strengths.
Let’s end on a positive note sharing some accomplishments from our UCI interviewees.
1. If you’re going through the application process for jobs and internships, you’ll really relate to Li.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to find a good internship in something that would really fit, and a lot of that pressure translated into feelings of imposter syndrome and not feeling good enough compared to other people. I talked to a friend about all these negative feelings and having to put myself out there. Then they told me something that was really encouraging: ‘Doing what you’re doing and taking the opportunity to apply to all these things and taking action to be the best person you can be to prepare for what’s next is real strength.’ I really needed to hear that because I never had a sense of how difficult what I was doing was. Being able to have that positive spin on it felt so motivating to continue doing what I was doing,” Li said.
We’re happy to hear about you moving forward despite those personal doubts!
2. While this article focuses on students’ final year at UCI, don’t count out those accomplishments you made before senior year.
“The first quarter of official online learning felt especially tough. I am not someone that performs well with online instructions, yet all of my classes became online instructions. I became distressed from having to manage learning time, assignment time and study time; at the same time I tried coping with the newly appeared COVID and the whole situation seemed surreal. Not surprisingly my grades for that quarter plummeted. Since it was the last quarter of my junior year I wholeheartedly believed that the situation would not get better. Luckily, I had the summer to recover and adjust, and when fall quarter [of my senior year] came, I performed better than I hoped,” Tan said.
Overcoming those moments of adversity encompass the heart of battling senioritis.
3. And Mendez’s success story shows that all the blood, sweat and tears were worth it.
“One accomplishment I hold very dear to my heart from my senior year at UCI? Being the first from my family to graduate college and getting a job offer after finishing my credential program. I was worried about not graduating or finding a job as a science teacher because COVID put everything on hold and made everything seem like time stood still when it came to jobs. After getting the call that I got a job in Burbank, I knew that all the hardships and distressing moments I felt throughout my senior year made the path for my success a bit more clearer. If I accomplished what I had in mind before COVID during COVID, then I know we can all accomplish so much more,” Mendez said.
Again, acknowledging all that you’ve done to make it through can give you the well-deserved feeling of accomplishment.
4. To college students all over America: we’ve really found ourselves in the home stretch now, fellas.
All these years of college under your belt and you’ve made it to this final point in time. What’s one more year got on the challenges you’ve already faced? Granted, the pandemic definitely threw a wrench in a traditional senior year, but the sweet taste of freedom from college makes a strong motivator. Imagine having a college diploma and homework-free sleep. We’re all rooting for you to make it through!