It’s late in the afternoon on a Friday, and a group of students are taking their seats in preparation for another riveting Geology 101 lecture. The professor is pouring her heart into a case study on the “Formation of Weathered Rocks in Southern Appalachia,” as everyone astutely follows along while scrolling through ESPN.com or Pinterest for the duration of the lecture.
As a senior reluctantly surrounded by a classroom full of overenthusiastic freshmen, time seems to tick away that much more slowly. May 13 is quickly approaching, but every monotonous tick of that clock hanging above the classroom door reminds the college veteran that graduation is so close, yet so far away.
How could you ever want to leave such a heavenly place? College has been nothing more than an adult playground where morals are questioned, laws are sometimes obeyed and class has been something to do to pass the time.
Internally, an emotional dichotomy is raging: The excitement of soon being able to start a new chapter in life has begun to conflict with eight semesters of nostalgia. Bittersweet hardly does it justice.
The senior ponders. Maybe taking a freshman class isn’t so bad after all. Maybe being around students who are new to the process will be a great time to reflect on the journey that has taken place over the last four years.
Abruptly, when one of America’s most promising addresses the class with an important question, the upperclassman is brought back to reality: “Professor, how do rocks have weather? I didn’t think that was possible.”
Never mind — it is that bad.
Here are three things that will happen to you when you’re a senior in a freshman class.
1. The class will become even more meaningless with each new lecture.
It feels like being the oldest kid at the kids table during Thanksgiving dinner. Your intellect is superior to your peers, yet no one cares. There’s still a semester left until you’re old enough to, at long last, receive an invite to sit with the adults and partake in conversations that provide meaning to this world.
At first glance, that Geology 101 class seemed like a good option for a three-credit hour filler in order to have enough credits to graduate, but it provides nothing more than a 50 minute time slot to daydream. The finish line is close, and being surrounded by freshmen only adds to the desire to want to experience something new. Everything about the experience will make it hard to wake up in the morning and feel the need to contribute anything more than signing the attendance sheet.
2. It is impossible to not overhear freshmen horror stories and then be overly judgmental.
It’s easy to view college freshmen today in a negative light. The tide pod phenomenon, President Trump and the recent plummet in the value of bitcoin. When things go wrong, the blame trickles down to the bottom of the totem pole, and then even further down to the freshmen. Add today’s problems on top of the overheard appalling tale of a freshman girl’s night of blacking out, and one becomes excessively judgmental.
However, the judgement should be balanced with humility. Only three and a half years ago that was you going to house parties with the most reckless of intentions while caring little of the potential consequences of your actions. The only difference between that freshman girl and you is that you make a fool of yourself in a bar instead of a house and are too embarrassed to talk about it in public the next day.
3. A secret society of seniors forms in the back of the lecture hall.
No one wants to be known as the one senior in a class full of freshmen. It is information that is only known by the person possessing the title. There is a reputation at stake; being dubbed as the “old guy” or the “grandma” of the class can shatter one’s confidence. Unbeknownst to the senior, who is playing James Bond and keeping their true identity hidden, is that a society of secret agents has accompanied him or her in the back of the lecture.
It becomes a game of strategy: It’s halfway through the semester and two senior students have been slouching in the back of their Geology 101 class, hoping this isn’t the lecture the professor thinks outside the box and ventures to the back of the room to embarrass yet another student who obviously didn’t do the reading.
Who will be the first to admit their true identity? Each had hoped that their “Insert-college-here’s concert on The Quad Fall 2014” T-shirts worn at different times earlier in the semester would spark a conversation about the struggles of being the oldest people in the lecture, yet neither coughed up the truth, just in case the shirts were a sham.
Luckily for the old-timers, the day has come for a group assignment, and both decide to take their chances and work with the one that they think is closest to their own age. The groups are given a thought-provoking prompt:
“In this class, the concept of ‘age’ is constantly used to analyze the Earth. Name an instance in this class where ‘age’ has influenced your perspective.”
The two look deep into the eyes of each other and both see the wheels turning, the words working their way from their frontal lobes to the tips of their tongues. Without hesitating even for a second, their lips move in unison and reassurance is finally achieved:
“Being a senior in a freshman class.”