College: the best years of your life? Depends on if you graduate on time. But I digress. Freshman year is an overload of greasy food, new friendships and taking a “shot” at the party scene. Sophomore year may put you in a slump, but it’s nothing a little pizza can fix. Junior year? Good luck. But what about senior year? Is the time for all the easy classes and best memories? Is it even better than the college shock of freshman year? College is a fine wine; it only gets better with age.
Remember taking that class freshman year that had nothing to do with your major and a professor that didn’t have time for you? Neither do I. There is nothing memorable about a class that you have to take, especially when there are ones out there that you actually want to take. “I was finally able to take the classes I wanted to take and that were relevant to my major,” said Ohio University senior Kasey Brooks. “I was also able to take less classes so I could balance my social life while preparing for the future.”
A social life is one of the main reasons why you’re at college. Throughout the years, it gets even better. “I have my group of friends now,” said OU senior Olivia Usitalo, “and I’m very comfortable here on campus. Sometimes I feel like an old sage.”
The best part is the existential journey you’ll take throughout the years. It will really make you question what you were doing as a freshman. Ohio University senior Rose Troyer said, “If I met myself as a freshman, we would be having a serious sit down. But that’s what it’s really about…growing up, finding yourself, evolving into a better human.” And yes, being a better human does mean being the better friend that picks up the tab.
So senior year is a pool of imperfect experiences that you wouldn’t trade for anything except free tuition. But what would this time be without its never-ending stress? Troyer said, “Senior year is different because there is a similar excitement as freshman year, but now the excitement is wrapped up with fear and anxiety about the future.”
You’ve been dealing with this anxiety since day one; it just has a different face now. “I was nervous coming in freshman year because it’s all new,” Brooks said. “Now, being a senior, I’m about to leave from somewhere I’ve loved for four years, so the nervousness comes back.” Anxiety, nervousness, what’s next—a foreboding sense of displacement with the world? “Freshman year has the uncertainty of finding your niche, and senior year has the ever-looming next step in your life regardless of what that next step may be,” said OU senior Ben Eilers.
Before your “holy shit, is this what I’m going to feel” thoughts set in, remember that all of the anxiety in the world can’t stop the excitement of finally experiencing your future. OU senior Hannah Nelson said, “When I was a freshman, I didn’t have a job or support myself as much. I was more carefree. Now, I can still be spontaneous and have fun, but I have a job and pay my own bills and live in a house. So I actually have to take care of myself much more.”
But of course these things sound ridiculous. You’re a freshman in college with more important problems to worry about. Rushing or getting into the right bars is top priorities, right? The key here is that those problems won’t even exist by the time you’re a senior. “The urgency is very different,” Usitalo said. “I know freshman year I’d say, ‘I need to do this, I need to do that,’ but it’s easier this year. I wasn’t as excited or nervous about the first days of classes or clubs.” Students stop sweating over the petty stuff by their last year.
So freshman year is different from senior year; you don’t need an article to tell you that. But assuming that year one is better is backward thinking. Remember the wine analogy? Imagine that with every single college attribute. Friendships become tougher than dining hall steak, good memories flood your head and you learn a thing or two about cooking without your mom’s help. Live it up. You survived.