The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Column: Transitions from under- to upperclassmen

Can you believe it’s May already? That’s right, May, which means that as the temperature outside goes up, the academic year winds down. Before you know it, it’s finals week, a.k.a. the week of intense studying and no sleep, or for some of you, the week of intense partying and no sleep (pick your poison). Next, it’s Block Party and you’re pouring beer into a Solo cup from the side of a truck on High Street and posing for pictures with state troopers. Then it’s summertime and the living’s easy.
And for those of us who aren’t seniors, who aren’t graduating and entering the real world, after summer comes a new academic year at Grinnell College. A new year means a new class of Grinnellians who don’t quite know just how awkward they really are (or will be). A new year means new living quarters, new routines, and, hopefully, new friends.

But the craziest thing about a new year is that you won’t be a first-year/second-year/junior anymore. You’ll be a second-year/junior/senior! Ah! Transitions! Growing up! Maturity! Coming of age! Etc., etc., etc.!

To the first-years—congratulations! You’ve made it through one of the most awkward and exciting years of your life. This fall, you’ll come back to Grinnell with a different set of feelings than you had last August. You’ll actually know people, you’ll know where to go on the first day of classes, and, hopefully, you’ll know the meaning of self-governance.

The summer before my second year, I was convinced that second year was going to be the best one at Grinnell. My logic was that a) your coming back to all of your friends and familiar faces, b) you’re whole class will be here for the whole year, c) you’re not going to be graduating at the end of the year, and d) you’re not a first-year.

Although all of those criteria are true, I’ve realized that they don’t necessarily equate to the “best year at Grinnell.” Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time my second year, and I’m sure that when it’s all said and done, some of you will reflect on these four years and pick the second one as your favorite.

But there’s definitely something that happens after second year, when you become a junior and enter the realm of upperclassmen. It’s the point where you start really forgetting the excitement and ease of high school, you start taking higher level courses, and begin preparing for the real world. Your hand definitely isn’t being held anymore.

Most of you current second-years will be abroad for a semester next year. You’ll be in a place completely foreign, away from your friends, family, and Grinnell. You’ll have ample opportunity to grow as a person, to discover things about yourself and do things that you never thought you would do. At Grinnell, you’ll probably have a single—if you’re one of the lucky ones to get one before they ran out—and the chances are that you’ll have a lot of questions for yourself: “Wait, I have a space all to my own? I have to go out and actively find my friends to hang out with them? I’m about to be 21? Those are the first-years?!”
These were the type of questions I was asking myself at the beginning of this semester. These questions are really important. Even though you soon-to-be-juniors will probably have questions of your own, it’s the way that you answer these questions that makes you an upperclassman. And do you want to know what the beauty of college is? You don’t have to answer those questions alone.

It’s May. To all of the seniors, good luck in the real world. To all of my fellow classmates, let’s have a ballin’ senior year. And let’s help those who don’t have all of their questions answered yet.

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