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Natalie Guerra / Senior Staff Photographer

To our seniors:

“Cherish the next four years, I can’t believe I’m already a senior. Like, it doesn’t feel real.” We all heard variations of this same sentence sprinkled throughout NSOP. For some of you, the eventual truth in these words might have proven to be a blessing, and you can’t wait to finally escape the Columbia bubble and branch out into a world of possibilities. There’s so much to look forward to! New freedoms, more sophisticated job opportunities, the chance to make use of your hard-earned education and become a more impactful member of society. The end of college can’t come soon enough... You’re so excited, and at this point, you just want out... and then there are those of you who don’t.

While the person standing next to you during Senior Toast might see what’s next as a “world of possibilities,” you only see uncertainty. You’ve had a pretty clear idea of “what comes next” thus far in your life. Make it through high school, apply to a college, get into the college, graduate from said college. Check, check, check. One more to go. So far the checklist of your life, spanning from kindergarten to when you’re currently reading this, has gone according to plan. But now, for perhaps the first time in your life, you have been given the pen and told to write down what comes next—to decide what all of those “checks” were actually building up to.

Where do you go from here? There are so many options—get a job, I guess? Go straight to grad school? Maybe go home for a little bit? Which one is the right move? For someone who has expected so much of themselves since third grade arithmetic, which is the best path? There is a world of them in this “world of possibilities,” and that can be terrifying.

At this point in the academic year, it’s natural to have a million questions running through your head about graduation, the kind not belonging to the “how many tickets are we allowed to have for the ceremony” classification. They’re questions like, “Am I ready to leave? If I am, why am I not excited? All of my friends seem excited. Shouldn’t I be excited? Are my friends better prepared than I am, more capable of success—is that why I’m not excited?”

The truth is, in the realm of all the “I can’t wait to get the hell out of here, I’m so done” clamor, also lives the whisper of fear that we were too preoccupied or naive to notice within the “Cherish the next four years. I can’t believe I’m already a senior. Like, it doesn’t feel real.” Out of all those seniors you idolized four years ago, the ones you wanted to become, some were absolutely terrified.

It’s normal, and it’s ok.

At NSOP, you didn’t know where to find Schermerhorn Hall, what to order at JJ’s, or how to finesse a swipe into other colleges’ dorms. While others in your group might have seen so much to look forward to at Columbia University in the City of New York, you might have felt uncertainty. But you’ve made it this far. Whether you’re thrilled or unsure, you’re going to walk across that stage in May because you have overcome the numerous and diverse challenges posed to undergraduates at this university—you have proven yourself “capable of success.”

As you begin to say your goodbyes, take a look at some of Spectrum’s articles about life on campus. Sunbathe somewhere new, go explore that special study nook you always wanted to, frequent a different bar around campus. Whatever you decide to do in these last few months, do it with your Columbia family by your side, a little peace of mind, and a (perhaps even hopeful?) eye toward the future. You’ve grown, you’re graduating, and you’ll be ready. You might not be excited yet, but you can be sure that wherever you let your passions take you is something worth getting excited about. All you need is the last “check.”

With love,

The Spectrum Team

Senior staff writer Sydney Fox can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

Columbia Barnard Graduation Seniors
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