While seniors in high school generally count down the days until the final bell rings and they're free to move on to the next phase of their lives, seniors in college rarely share that sentiment.
Graduating from college is bittersweet. Sure, it's an accomplishment and ushers in a new season of life, but you wouldn't mind putting that off just a little bit longer.
Graduating from college is paradoxical for most people. The flood of emotions – some good, some bad – are too heavy for some to bear without having a panic attack.
Sound familiar? If so, you certainly aren't alone.
From a big picture point of view, you've dedicated the last 17 or 18 years of life to school (in one capacity or another). You've built a life at college and it's hard to just say goodbye and leave it behind.
College isn't easy, but it's a whole lot of fun. It isn't the end-all-be-all, but it will still probably be remembered as one of the best times of your life. For those who make the most out of the opportunities, it is an unforgettable experience.
If you're embarking on the final semester of your college career, then you have a choice to make. You can either spend the next few months mindlessly working toward graduation, or you can live life to the fullest.
Assuming you want to make the most out of your last semester and really enjoy the final few weeks you have as a student, here are a handful of things you can do to make it your best semester yet.
1. Stay up later.
Has anyone ever looked back on a period of their life and thought, “Man, I wish I would have gotten more sleep?” While sleep may be tempting in the moment, you've got a lifetime to catch up on it. Instead of turning in early and catching a couple more hours, spend this semester going out more.
Your parents may have told you that nothing good happens late at night, but you know from firsthand experience that most exciting things happen after dark. Make it a point to stay up later and enjoy more of those experiences.
2. Make new friends.
One of the worst mistakes people make in college is closing themselves off once they've found their friend group. We've all been there before. You get comfortable with your friends and feel like you don't need to connect with anyone else.
There are always more friendships out there worth having, so go find them.
Make it a point to make at least one new friend this semester. Not just someone you see on campus, but someone you actually hang out with on a regular basis. You never know how special this person will become in your life.
3. Make new memories with old friends.
“You have probably cycled in out of a few friend groups by now, but there are a core group of three or four people who have been by your side since day one,” says blogger Katie Lynn. “These are your best friends. Love them. Support them. Spend all of your time with them.”
While it's crucial to put yourself out there and make new friends, now isn't the time to neglect your old ones. Now's the time to make a few new memories with them – memories that you can all laugh about five, ten or twenty years from now.
4. Create your own yearbook.
Remember getting a yearbook at the end of each year of middle school and high school? It was one of the greatest parts about the last day of school. You were able to flip through and find yourself and your friends. Even now, you probably occasionally pick up your yearbooks and look at them for the sake of reminiscing.
While your college probably doesn't hand out a yearbook, what's to stop you and your friends from creating your own yearbook from your time in school? Fill it with pictures of your friend group and different memories you have together, then sign each other's copies with sappy notes and cheesy acronyms.
5. Enjoy your lazy afternoons.
When you enter the “real world” and start a job that requires you to work 40 or 50 hours a week, you'll suddenly realize that you had a lot of free time when you were in college. You won't find yourself at home in the middle of the afternoon with nothing to do.
That's why you should enjoy as many lazy weekday afternoons as possible during your final semester. Turn on the TV, grab a cozy blanket and enjoy doing nothing.
Take a nap to make up for that sleep you're missing by going out at night. This is the last time in your life you'll be able to do this without feeling guilty.
6. Attend as many free events as possible.
Your college tuition doesn't just go towards classes and books and academic things of that nature. If you really study your bill, you'll notice that you're paying $100 here, $300 there, $75 over there, etc.
Where are all of these little payments going? Many support “free” events like basketball games, musicals, concerts, conferences and other on campus events.
If you aren't going to on campus events, you're essentially throwing away an opportunity to enjoy entertainment that's already been paid for, and partly by you. Make it a point to attend at least one free event each week for the remainder of the semester.
7. Take advantage of your meal plan.
If you're still on a food meal plan, you don't realize how lucky you are. Not only do you have easy access to food, but you don't have to worry about cooking your own meals. This is a huge time saver and frees you up to do other things.
While you may feel like you're too lazy to walk over to the student union building and use your meal plan, stop opting for ramen noodles and microwavable mac 'n' cheese. Get out of your room, use that meal plan, and enjoy this brief period of time when you don't have to worry about meal planning, going to the grocery store or cooking.
8. Start planning for the future.
“College students, in my experience, suffer from an inferiority complex,” writer Dustin Wax believes. “They assume that nobody in 'the real world' would be interested in their thoughts, talents, or problems, one consequence of which is that they do very little to reach out to people in fields they're interested in until they're 'finished,' which usually means when they're actively looking for work – and by then, it's too late.”
What Wax is trying to say is that, while there's plenty of time to have fun, you need to have one eye on the future. If you can secure a job position before the end of the semester, you'll be able to enjoy your time that much more. There's nothing more stressful than graduating and realizing that you're unemployed and in need of an income.
Moving on to the next chapter of life.
The next chapter of your life is quickly approaching and it'll be full of new adventures and surprises. Many people enjoy their first few years out of college more than they enjoyed college itself. You'll have a source of income, the opportunity to explore new places, and a chance to make new friends.
With that being said, it won't be as carefree as college was. Make the most out of your last semester and enjoy the paradoxical experience that is graduating from college.