The Myths of Your Senior Year

March 27, 2015 in Alive Campus, Career

Senior yearSenior Year. It’s FINALLY here and some of you might be coming to the realization that you are about to enter the real world in just about two short months. I don’t know about you, but I am starting to panic. Everyone says that your senior year is supposed to be the best year of your life and enjoy it while you can! Well how can I when I have to find a job?! I keep trying to enjoy these last two months of my undergraduate education but all I keep thinking about is if I’m going to be homeless or not come May 16. It’s a scary feeling knowing that you may be living on the street in a few months after putting blood, sweat and tears into a $40,000 education. And I know I may be exaggerating a little bit because you always have your parents’ couch right? But at the same time I am completely serious.

These feelings of panic can be attributed to three statements or “myths” that every senior has probably heard more than a dozen times. First is “Oh you’re a senior? Do you have a job yet?” I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this question from family, friends, and strangers alike and I don’t know how much longer I can take it. This question irks me so much because it only adds pressure onto the already panicked attitude I have knowing that graduation is fast approaching. If I had a job then I would immediately tell you straight up before anything else, but if I don’t say anything then please do not ask unless you are going to give me ideas of where to apply.

That question is usually followed by “Oh that’s okay you’ll get a job because everyone wants graduates from your college and it all works out in the end!” In here lies the myth that because I go to a one of the best military colleges in America that someone will automatically hand me a job come graduation. We’ve been breed since freshman year that jobs are handed to us like free money because everyone loves VMI graduates. Well considering I don’t have a job yet that couldn’t be more false. And the thing is, I knew this would happen and wasn’t expecting to be handed a job, but it’s the fact that they make us feel like we’re better than everyone and that you’ll be employed come graduation.

The third question that is sometimes asked is “What would you like to do and where are you looking?” Well honestly I just want a job so I’m looking anywhere. It is even proven that a majority of people don’t even work in the field that they received their degree in and this may be due to the fact that people settle because they need money and I myself would probably do the same. However, I do have a dream job and would like to get a job in that general field. Additionally, what senior actually has the time to look for jobs?! My schedule at VMI does not leave me very much time for myself much less time to look for a job. And frankly, I just want to focus on graduating because I do not want to stay here longer than I have to. Therefore, if I do have the time to apply for a job then I will but other than that I am focusing on getting my diploma, graduating with distinction, and getting out of Dodge.

So if you are a senior and have been hit with these three questions, just know that you are not alone. I am right there with you and as of right now come May 16 I will be looking for my next move. But it’s all going to work out in the end, right? (Or so we’ve been told).

“You are worth it simply because you exist.”

November 8, 2014 in Academics, Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges, Health

I sneak a peak from the corners of my laptop and see two students sitting on the opposite end of the study room. To the right, I see a girl twirling her fingers through her hair, tugging at the ends in a nervous manner as she continues to read through an Organic Chemistry textbook. To the left, I see a boy chugging down a cup of coffee—I’m imagining a Red Eye to match his red, sleep-deprived eyes. I then look at my own laptop screen; my dock filled with minimized documents of Gender Studies texts and Word documents with unfinished midterm papers. I grab my quadruple shot espresso and finish the contents of my Venti-sized cup in a matter of seconds. I burp softly and continue to type as I think about the to-do list of tasks that I’ve yet to write up (maybe I should add “write to-do list” to my to-do list).

Cornell is, without a doubt, an academically rigorous institution. Add to that the stigma of being the Suicide Ivy, the university wide policy of grade deflation, and the Type-A peers in every classroom, and you have yourself an anxiety-ridden environment. As a student who has survived numerous suicide attempts and panic attacks, and now runs university wide “Happiness Projects,” I can attest that changing one’s mentality is the only sure-fire way of tackling the issue that is mental health at the university level.

Prelims season AKA stress stress stress!

Prelims season AKA stress stress stress!

“I am sitting next to Albert Einstein’s reincarnation.”

During my first week at Cornell, I couldn’t help but to notice the amount of students boasting about their high school achievements. “AP Scholar” and “National Champion” were casually inserted into conversations about the pasta being served. Most Frosh come to Cornell with the mentality that they will maintain their valedictorian status. In a school comprised of 99th percentile students, it becomes incredibly difficult to maintain said status. Rather than fighting for the spotlight in a small discussion seminar, or plotting to murder the students who score higher than you on a calculus midterm, think optimistically: “I am privileged enough to be sitting in a room with some of the brightest minds in the world. They are here, so they are valid. I am here, so I am valid, too. Maybe we can learn from each other!”

“My low GPA is my identity.”

In my circle of friends, the status of Valedictorian is synonymous to GPA-obsessed high school students. Cornell tends to attract—and accept—these types of students. While I’m not implying that GPAs in college are insignificant, I am asserting that there is more to a Cornell education than grades—in fact, considering grade deflation, grades become even less representative of one’s academic potential. Rather than crying over your first sub-par transcript, think to yourself, “Am I paying all of this tuition for an easy A+, or am I here for academic enrichment?”

“I don’t belong here”

Spreading positivity on Ho Plaza: Smile! You look beautiful today!

Spreading positivity on Ho Plaza: Smile! You look beautiful today!

Being a person of color, a gay identifying male, and having graduated from a sub-par public high school, I knew that I would feel slightly out of place. However, I never imagined that my isolation would extend further than my sexuality, skin color, and socio economic background. During my first semester, a negative thought constantly ran through my mind: “I am not intelligent like my roommate. That girl from my Feminist class is what a real Cornell student looks like. Even that annoying Frat bro can think outside of the box! I’m just an imposter.” It’s a strange feeling when you realize that you are no longer the big fish in the small pond; it’s unsettling to think that you may never achieve as much as others, that your best might never be good enough, that the endless nights of coffee and hours slaving over that one chapter in the textbook will amount to absolutely nothing. There are nights when you think you’ve studied hard enough to achieve a perfect grade on an exam and end up with a grade lower than the class’s mean. At some point during the end of my first semester, I received validation in the form of a coffee chat with a professor. She told me, “You’re here because someone knew—not thought, KNEW—that you belonged.” If you attend Cornell—or any university—just keep in mind, you got an acceptance letter for a reason. And that reason is because YOU BELONG.

Whether you go to Cornell or you attend online classes, you will feel certain emotions in reference to your academic potential. It’s incredibly important to remember that you are not your grades, that you are attending college for purposes other than being the best, and that you are wonderful simply because you exist. Think optimistically and never forget that you are worth it.