On my first day of my junior year of college, I woke up bright and early, threw on my first-day outfit (you know the one you’ve been subconsciously planning since the beginning of August), and made my way across campus to my first class as an upperclassman. After two years of first-day jitters as a freshman and sophomore, this semester I sat down in my first class comfortable and confident, ready to take on the new school year as an experienced student. I smiled at the girl next to me and introduced myself. As I pulled out my pen and three-subject spiral ready to take notes, I thought to myself, I’m not that nervous underclassman anymore. Nope, I’m a junior now, I know what I’m doing.
And then everyone started speaking fluent Spanish and I realized I was in the wrong class.
Ah, yes. Starting off this upperclassman thing strong.
Do we really ever know what we’re doing? Some things never change, but in other aspects, the jump from sophomore to junior year feels like a transcendence from the days of oblivion to a new era of enlightenment.
Here are some things that happen as you make that fruitful transition into being an upperclassman:
1. You know how to adult (kinda)
By this point in your college career, you've probably done something "adult-ish." Have you signed a lease? Paid rent? Cashed a check? Been mistaken for someone's great-grandmother? All of these are surefire signs that mark your transition into upperclassman-ship and adulthood.
2. Your friends are your real friends
Remember that scramble for friends freshman year when you introduced yourself to every person you came in contact with and traveled in packs of 50+ to every destination and event? Yeah, those days are over. By now you've come to know people on a deeper, more personal level. You know which friends will be there for you when you need them. Your friends have seen you at 2 a.m. in your glasses and onesie pajama, eating microwaved pizza and Nutella straight from the jar. These are the people who will show up at your door with coffee when you had a rough week with exams, chicken soup when you were sick, and ice cream and tissues that time Zayn Malik left One Direction.
3. Your family members become your best friends
With your angsty teen days behind you, you've come to realize just how much your parents have done for you. During every break you get the chance to spend at home, you understand how much you truly love and miss your family when in college. Spending time with your siblings and cousins brings nostalgic memories of a time when you were carefree and happy at the many family get-togethers you had growing up. You've grown to appreciate the fact that your family members are the only people you can say have been there for you since day one and will be there for you the rest of your life.
4. It’s time to get your life together
Ready or not, here life comes. It's time to start thinking about the future and working towards "real-world" things. Everyone in your class is probably talking about their internships, LSAT, MCAT -- words mentioned but rarely put into use during your first couple of years in college. You're also probably a mentor to at least a couple of underclassmen who ask for and value your advice and insight. And that ability to help, to actually know what you're doing, is an awesome thing. But even with the new responsibilities and expectations, we are all still learning. In fact, we'll undoubtedly be learning and growing for the rest of our lives .
So regardless, don't worry about accidentally walking into the wrong class from time to time even as an upperclassman — it happens. You're good.
(At least that's what I tell myself.)