My Last First Day Of School

My Last First Day Of School

It's hard to believe I don't have to sit through any more syllabus week classes...

As a second-semester senior with no aims (thus far) of going to grad school, it's interesting to think that I may have just had my last "first day of school" ever. They've become progressively smaller deals each time -- even my return to campus after my first college winter break brought an apprehensive feeling of mystery and suspense. I will admit I have a similar feeling now, but that's only because I haven't started applying for jobs yet.

I know what I'm in for now. This semester of college will consist of some degree of personal improvement, stress over schoolwork that I have trouble doing even when I truly believe that I "like" my classes, lots of fun moments with good friends, some personal drama, nostalgia for semesters past and some level of dissatisfaction with the amount of personal, academic and social progress I'll end up making. It's never quite enough that I end a semester feeling totally satisfied and predict my thoughts during graduation will be both on accomplishments and missed opportunities.

I've scheduled myself such that I only have a single class on Mondays and Fridays (I think it will allow me to better transition in and out of the weekend), so I lazily woke up, rolled out of bed, and went to class. It's syllabus week, so we talked about general course guidelines (which are standard), introduced ourselves (I'm not going to remember anybody's name on Wednesday, except that of the friend I'm taking the class with and the cute girl in the corner), and were dismissed a few minutes ahead of schedule. And with absolutely no fanfare, I've been thrust into my last semester of college. It feels pretty much like all of the others and I doubt that will change much. The hunt for internships and summer jobs will be replaced with a search for a "real job," and of course I still have to, at the very least, pass the majority of my classes. The one benefit is that I can probably get a D in every single course I'm taking this semester without jeopardizing either my chance to graduate or my solid GPA.

Gone is the worry that I won't get all of my major requirements in (they're done) and the apprehension that my social life will be wildly different (I'm a second-semester senior. I'm not making many more close friends, or meeting my soulmate here). I have more real-person worries: I need a job, an apartment, some degree of control over my habits and life skills, the ability to manage my finances and a whole laundry list of other anxieties, but I'm in sort of a zen state about it. I've proven, thus far, that I'm reasonably competent. I'm sure I'll pull through this semester too, even if it's a struggle like the past seven were.

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When You Work A Job In College, You Earn Things Mom And Dad's Money Can't Buy

The appreciation I have gained is something that cannot be bought, it was earned by hard work and dedication.

As my first year of college approached, I pleaded with my parents not to make me work during my first semester. I selfishly just wanted to have as much free time as possible to hang out with my friends, go out to frat parties, and sleep the whole next day. The last thing I wanted was to have a job to worry about, I just wanted to live off of my parents' dime.

I also thought it would have been nice to have school and extracurriculars as my only responsibility, but my parents refused to let me not have a job. They were both extremely hard workers for all of their life and saw no reason I could not handle both work and school.

So, against my wishes, I went out and got myself a hostessing job at a local restaurant. I had no idea the lessons and skills I would gain from this job that I dreaded on applying for initially.

1. Time Management

One of the things I value most about simultaneously being a student and having a job is learning how to manage my time. Prior to being a working student, I was extremely lazy when it came to doing assignments and projects, I would put them off until the very last possible moment. Once I started working, I had no time to waste, I was forced to get my life together and prioritize my responsibilities. So instead of spending my free time laying around and watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians, I was finishing my assignments before I had to go to work because I knew I had no other choice. I learned how to balance my responsibilities while still making time for myself.

2. Maturity

I learned that you cannot rely on your parents financially forever and that it is crucial to learn how to support yourself. I know my parents wanted to teach me that the real world is hard and they wanted to prepare me for it as best as they could. They did not want to shelter and enable me because they realized that it would only hinder me in the long run. My job itself taught me how to take responsibility for my actions, be on time, and to be professional. This all around gave me a more mature outlook on life and strengthened me as a person in several areas.

3. Perseverance

Being a working student is not easy and often makes it really hard to keep going when you are tired, sick, or just feeling worn out. Balancing both work and school can be extremely overwhelming and just make you want to give up at times, but you learn how to persevere because you care about your future. I had coworkers, teachers, and friends/family supporting me through every obstacle that was placed in my path and helped me get closer to achieving my goals. I knew the consequences of missing work, skipping class, and being lazy so I chose to persevere even when times were tough.

4. The Value of Money

When your parents support you financially, you never realize how much things cost. You probably never thought twice about swiping your parents' credit card for a $5 coffee or a $20 meal, but once it's your own money you start to think twice about splurging on unnecessary items. I began to realize how much things like groceries and gas cost and started to manage my money accordingly.

I also learned that money just doesn’t grow on trees and that there is a lot of hard work required in earning money. I would never have realized the true value of a dollar if my parents didn't make me get a job in college.

5. Appreciation

By having a job in college, I gained such an appreciation for things that I would have previously taken for granted. I have learned what it means to work for things and truly deserve everything that I have worked for. The appreciation I have gained is something that cannot be bought, it was earned by hard work and dedication.

Cover Image Credit: Carlie Konuch

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A Thank You Letter to my Hero's

Your simple, yet silly personalities have the ability to light up any room you walk into.

Dear Friends, who were blessed with an extra chromosome;

I have decided that this World Down Syndrome Awareness Day, I want things to be all about you guys! Thank you for snuggling up to me in the middle of chapel and always wanting to hold my hand. I want you all to know that my love language is touch, so the endless hugs don’t bother me a bit. Thank you for having some of the most infectious personalities. Thank you for letting me act like a fool in front of you. Thank you for having faith like a child, so innocent perfect and pure. Thank you for teaching me to be so different. I used to see you guys in stores and malls and look down or walk the other way. Oh, how I was so wrong, and I misjudged you. And for that I am sorry, because I know that you do not judge. You don’t judge someone based on their appearance or personality but instead you LOVE. You Love with all your heart. My life would not be complete without you guys in it. I hear you giggle and laugh so hard it leads me to smile. I smile at this site because I think God is smiling and laughing along with you. I believe He created you and your bubbly personalities to bring light into this dark and fallen world. He looks down at you and smiles when he sees you giving it your all when you tie your shoe. You have taught me to never out grow being a kid. You have also taught me how to laugh. Your simple, yet silly personalities have the ability to light up any room you walk into. I am beyond thankful for all!! Thank you for the lessons you have taught me and will continue to teach me!!

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