In multiple articles, I have written and I have shared that I am a senior at the University of Cincinnati (UC). I have also shared that my situation is a little unique in that I am what is considered to be a "third-year senior," meaning that I am graduating from my undergrad in three years rather than four. Another element that makes my situation unique is that I am a double major and I am also receiving two certificates. I try not to talk about myself a lot in fear of coming across self-centered. However, whenever I am asked "what year are you?" or "what is your major?" and I share these details the typical response is a surprised "oh," usually followed by the "so you are pretty smart than" comment.

I want to clear up that I don't consider myself to be overly smart. At the same time, I pushed myself in high school by taking Honors, Advanced Placement (AP) and Dual Enrollment courses, thus, allowing me to enter college as a sophomore. I have continued to push myself in college by declaring two majors and two certificates to become the most well-rounded and marketable person I can be when I graduate and begin applying for jobs.

However, there is a third question I want to address that is always, at some point asked in the conversation. I was never sure how to answer until this weekend after talking with a friend. "Are you ready to graduate?" That is the burning question. And my answer: Yes. Also, my answer: No. As annoying as that may seem, yes and no is the answer that I have settled on, but also feel the need to explain.

Why yes. Well, being that I came into college as a sophomore I only had to take one general education class over the past four semesters. Therefore, I have spent almost all my time here at UC focusing on my majors, certificates and learning about what career path I would like to take. Through this journey I have taken classes that I have absolutely despised, some I have absolutely loved and would take again, and then others that fell in between. But when I take time to look back at the classes that I really loved, they are all classes that involved some type of application.

Whether it was a project, an application report, or several smaller projects throughout the semester, I was taking information that I had previously learned and finally applying it to a real-life situation. I was dipping my toe into the pool of what my future could possibly look like. Obviously, these classes are a more simplistic version and I would be naïve to think otherwise, but they have gotten me excited for what my future could hold and to simply put it, what I could be doing with my life.

Why no. Where I grew up you attended preschool all the way through high school with pretty much the same people. I came to have a great group of friends by the time I reached middle school, and it was in high school that by the time I graduated, the group of friends that I have feel more like extended family. I am lucky enough that several of my friends within my friend group also decided to come to UC. If they aren't at UC then they are most likely at OSU, however, I do have a few friends that are a little more up north or out of state.

Still, I am lucky enough that our break schedules align and we can hang out whenever we all come home. These friends I have laughed with, cried with, taken countless adventures with, traveled to different states, gone to concerts, amusement parks, celebrated holidays, the list goes on and on. But May 4, 2019, is a date within this academic year, and that is my graduation date. With no plans to attend graduate school I will be the only one of my friends that is "in the real world," the rest of my friends will still have another year, some even have two years, left of college to complete.

I am excited and feel prepared to enter "the real world" after what I have learned in the classes that I have loved. Nothing can take away the indescribable feeling that I get when I talk about dipping my toe in what I call my "future pool." In that sense, I am ready to graduate. But at the same time, I would be lying to myself if I don't acknowledge that I am still trying to accept the fact that I am graduating a year before my friends. No more daily hangouts in the summer, no more random adventures. We aren't all going to be graduating together and we aren't going to be experiencing "the real world" for the first time altogether. I will be on my own without my extended family there for me for the first time. That is why I am not completely ready to graduate.