While waiting hours to walk the stage, I considered the best and worst parts of the undergraduate experience.
By Molly Flynn, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
I remember my very first day on campus.
The world was new and bright, and graduation was a million years away—until this Saturday when graduation actually happened. How did the last four (and a half) years go by so fast?
Naturally, as the special day approached that I would get to walk across the stage and shake the hand of the Dean of my college, I began to reflect upon my years at my university. I realized that there are a lot of things that I will miss about college. I also realized there are a lot of things that I won’t.
During my undergrad, there were many invaluable experiences I had outside of the classroom itself. While what I actually learned in my courses was great as well, college offered more than book smarts and a fancier vocabulary. With that being said, a few things I will miss about campus are things I experienced outside of my 101s.
One of my favorite things about my alma mater is its intense value for diversity. Throughout my time at UNC Charlotte, I was able to go through diversity training, interact with people from cultures much different than mine and expand my understanding of the world. I wouldn’t consider myself sheltered prior to attending college, because I spent a lot of time in different countries as a child.
However, most of my cultural experience was obtained in Hispanic countries. College took me beyond the realms of America (North and South), and introduced me to people and cultures that I had never known before; and I never had to leave my campus to learn these things.
While exposure to diverse cultures and people challenged me, joining campus organizations motivated me. I am one of those kids who really likes to be involved. Seriously, even in elementary school I joined almost every after-school program. Thankfully, I had a mother who was willing to wait hours after school so I could master my jump-roping skills and hone my ability to recite Fire Safety codes to win the Fire Safety Bowl—yeah, that’s really a thing, I promise; I have the t-shirt to prove it.
So, as you can imagine, having outlets like organizations is a really good thing for me. I thrive when I am involved in a group that is tied together by a common vision and mission. And as I leave college and leave my campus organizations, I know that it will be very difficult to find the same fulfillment that I have been able to find through things like being a part of the orientation team and joining a sorority.
Above all, I will definitely miss not having to pay student loans… Yikes, I really gotta start paying those soon.
But, even with all of the wonderful things about college, and the exemption from repaying loans, there are things that I will not miss.
For example, while college is full of some really smart people, it is also full with some people who think they are really smart. From my very first college course, I realized that college is not only where intellects go but where pseudo-intellects go as well. Yes, Josh from HIST101, I still remember your long-winded rants about all the historical facts you knew that you thought were so relevant to the topic of the day. No one thought you were as smart as you did—not even the teacher.
One type of student almost as bad as the pseudo-intellectual was the pseudo-successful. These wanna-be superstars love to talk about the seven internships they’ve had in the past two years and all the accolades they’ve received. They enjoy telling you about the position their daddy has prepared for them at his big corporate office in some fancy city far away. They also love to ask you what grade you got on the exam just to brag about their A, which they will not explain is actually a rounded-up 89.5. I will not miss these assholes. No, I won’t miss them at all.
I will also not miss exam week. I have had some horrible things happen during finals. My very first semester of college I got mono the week of exams. I don’t know if you’ve ever had mono (I promise you can also get it from sharing drinks… it’s not just caused by kissing), but if you have, you know how lethargic and drained you are as a result. It was so difficult for me to stay awake to study or to write my final papers.
Poetically, I had another traumatic exam week my final semester of college. A week-and-a-half ago, right before all my research papers and finals were due, my computer crashed. Straight up died. My hard drive was wiped clean. Keep in mind, I had already written the majority of my 17-page research paper and, while I save like a maniac to ensure I don’t accidently delete papers, saving your paper is a moot point if the drive in which you save it is compromised. Even though I love to write, I really don’t like to rewrite. Like it or not, however, it had to be done.
While I won’t miss the pseudo-intellects or the exams of doom, I will also not miss being witnessed-to on campus. I am very strong in my personal faith and I understand the need to evangelize to promote what you believe in, but, being harassed about a Mother god and being told that my faith is insufficient because of two verses their leader misread in the Bible gets a little old. Also, the campus preachers get a little too fiery for my liking. The pastors calling girls walking by whores because their capris are showing too much ankle is something I will not reminisce about frequently.
But I did take some moments to reminisce on Saturday. I had a lot of time to think about the good and the bad of my time at campus as I sat in the commencement ceremony line-up for almost 3 hours. While there were many things I won’t miss about being a full-time student, there are many things that I will. And these things are what welled-up slight jealously inside of me for the students not yet graduating. There is a lot to look forward to now that I am a college-educated woman, but there is also a lot to look back on.
It’s okay though, because I don’t think graduation marked the end of my higher education. Maybe I want to pursue another degree because of how much I’ve enjoyed and will miss my undergraduate education. Or maybe it’s because those graduating from a Masters or Doctorates program look like something straight outta Hogwarts. Seriously, have you seen their hoods and caps and gowns? So, whether I simply want to re-experience the good of college, or just want to be a wizard, I definitely see myself back here one day.
But for now, I must bid my campus adieu. See ya soon, UNC Charlotte. Thanks for all the good and even all the bad.