Photo by Kayla Michaud |CIGAR| “I won’t know all the answers, but I can learn.”
Finish strong, stress later!
Graduation, the receiving an academic degree or diploma, the goodbye to friends you won’t see everyday and the new and fresh beginnings. It is the quintessential bittersweet event in any student’s life. Seniors have devoted the past four years of their life to endless hours of studying, establishing friendships, building relationships, finding oneself’s true path and becoming a leader in all that you involved yourself in.
While seniors definitely made their lasting mark on campus, the time has come to pass the torch to the grade below. Whether someone feels ready or not, the four walls of the classroom will quickly become a previous chapter in your life. The thought of graduating from your accustomed routine seems like one of the most anxiety-provoking thoughts. Of course, students are happy and excited about their graduation, but they can also exhibit signs of stress and anxiety. The very nature of this life event brings a whole range of emotions to the surface.
According to the Director of the University of Rhode Island Counseling Center, Dr. Robert Samuels, being anxious or stressed about graduation is completely normal.
“It is a time of loss,” Samuels said. “It’s a loss of what’s familiar. There are friendships in college that you may never have contact with those individuals again and there is loss. Loss of what’s familiar primarily and going into the unknown.”
Soon to be graduating senior Hannah Pearl, a health studies major, said she feels the pressure of this semester as the weeks are getting closer and closer to graduation.
“My emotions towards graduation [are] sad, happy and anxious,” Pearl said. “Definitely more sad than anything. It’s going to be hard.”
Pearl says every time she thinks about entering the real world, she starts to feel the pressure.
“So for the real world, I kind of don’t have many plans so far,” Pearl said. “I will be interning in Israel this summer, but in the interim I’m just trying to save some money and get to school and we’ll see from there.”
Samuels said that future graduates should think positively about graduation to flip the anxiety switch to more positive thoughts. He said that it’s a lot about how seniors frame graduation in their minds, explaining that the possibilities of a new beginning is exciting as well.
“You can embrace the excitement and acknowledge the anxiety, but just say okay, I can do this and I won’t know all the answers, but I can learn’,” Samuels said. “I can jump in with both feet and be brave.”
According to the Counseling Center staff, students can ease graduation by talking it out with others, maintaining a normal schedule, getting enough sleep and eating regularly.
While closing his own chapter, Ian Kanterman, a senior tour guide and orientation leader, is also inspiring and opening new ones while being more than ready to move on. Being a dual major in French and Biomechanical Engineering, he has participated in the five year program at school.
“It’s about time,” said Kanterman. “It’s that time to close a chapter in my life and while I can look back on it, and smile, and all the things I’ve done and the things I did and grew and changed as a person.”
The 23-year-old is ready to not be tied down to anything and is determined to find what’s best for him outside the undergraduate world. He believes that with his influence on the younger student body, he can attempt to inspire students and get an experience like he did.
“My hope is that as an older student at the University that I can help them and at least push them in the right direction or nudge them in the right direction, so they can find that ‘ah-ha’ moment or whatever that is for them because the university is what you make of it,” Kanterman said.
And from seniors parting wisdom, to those just starting their journey, Pearl said to get involved so that the experience is worthwhile.
“Definitely to put yourself out there, because college is what you make of it,” Pearl said. “If you join one club, great but if you join 10, that’s even better. The more people you know, the more connections you have.”
Kanterman believes it’s all about stepping beyond your comfort zone. He said, “find a new comfort that you want to do and honestly just be thankful and help others and smiles and have a great four years.”