So what are you doing next year after graduation? I’m not graduating this year, but I still have to answer the question. Such is the life of the fifth year student. The joke is that we run our victory lap as super seniors because graduating college in four years is like leaving a party at 10:30. However, as my senior year draws to a close I am beginning to think that graduating in five years is like leaving the party at 3am when everyone else went home hours ago. When friend’s parents ask me what I’m doing next year after graduation and I say that I will be at Northwestern for a fifth year, I feel like I’ve messed up in some way because students at Northwestern simply don’t take five years to graduate very often.
I knew when I accepted my internship to NASA that I would extend my time in college by a year. When I first accepted my coop I was a sophomore and I didn’t see the big deal. I had friends who were a year younger and how bad could an extra year of school be? When I was a junior I was glad for the extra time. Everyone else was thinking about graduate school, jobs, and the future. I still had two years to figure that out and I had an amazing internship on my resume, but with senior year coming to a close and all of my closest friends and former roommates graduating in a few days, I cannot help but feel a myriad of mixed emotions when I think about my decision to delay graduation.
I am flying to Chicago from Houston so when my friends do walk across the stage I will be there to cheer them on. I am proud of their accomplishments and success. Many have jobs lined up for them and I know that they are the exception to the rule for college graduates today. Those who don’t have jobs yet have proven themselves capable and smart. I’m sure that they will succeed in life and find employment soon. Although I am proud, I am also crushed that I will not be joining them. I do not regret my internship nor do I think that I have failed in any way by taking it, but I didn’t realize just how lonely I would feel seeing my friends from both high school and college graduate one by one. I need to answer the question of what I’m doing next year after graduation to myself, because I have no idea what I will be doing in the coming months when my friends have all left campus for good. I will keep you updated.