What Senior Year Gave Me: Reality Checks

Bre Aubin, Contributor

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I didn’t approach senior year with anything left to question. I had it all figured out or, so I had thought. Boy, was I in for a reality check (or many). Up until that point, I figured that I had a pretty good understanding of who I was and knew exactly everything that I wanted. I wanted to be a lawyer, have two kids, a two-story house completed with a green lawn and white picket fence (rambles on into infinity)… Then I began my senior year.  

Reality Check #1: GPA 

My first reality check came when I got the first true look at my GPA. Apparently, my GPA was a big factor as to whether a college would accept me or not (fun fact). So, after that approximately half of the colleges I was considering went straight out the window.  

Reality Check #2: Tuition 

From my personal experience, I never grew up in a household that had tons of cash to spare. However, that ended up being a good thing in my favor. As it turns out, the less money that I had, the more money colleges were willing to give me. This made me eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship.  

Reality Check #3: Parental Control 

I thought one of the main appealing aspects of college was the shield away from parental control and authority. By that point, I figured out what college I would be attending: TC3. However, I was presented with another question: would I be living on campus or would I be commuting to college? I felt so many conflicting emotions during that time. On one hand, I wanted to live on campus, to get a chance to feel college for what it really was. On the other hand, I didn’t really want to pay the additional ten grand per semester. Furthermore, I knew that if I stayed at home, that I would be under my parent’s roof and we all know how the saying goes, ‘As long as you’re under my roof, things are going to be done my way.’  

Reality Check #4: In the Long Run 

After many months of having an internal debate in my head, I decided that commuting to college was the smartest choice for me. Sure, I would have to answer to my parents and be under their ‘loving eyes,’ but was that really such a bad thing? Not to mention, long term I was saving myself thousands of dollars in student loans that I would end up having to pay back. And for what? All so I could say that I got the ‘real experience.’ Surely, I wouldn’t be the only college student to commute from home. I realized that college is a great place to meet new people. However, college is secondary education, not a social gathering. Earning a degree would be my primary focus.  

Reality Check #5: Not Everyone’s Your Friend 

Senior year was a big social wake-up call. I learned that you should never judge a book by its cover, but sometimes you can get a pretty good idea what the book is about, based on the cover. I became friends with people I never knew or previously didn’t like. I distanced myself from longtime friends, who no longer embodied the character and personality that had once attracted me to them. I came to the hard realization that not everyone is your friend, nor are they looking out for your best interest. Some people just suck and there’s no way around it. I realized my real friends were the people I went to when times were tough. They were not just people that I had known forever, or the people that I had the most classes with. I let go of some friends and realized that the good ones were far and few in between. Though, my friend circle had become smaller, I chose quality over quantity. 

Reality Check #6: Low Performance = No Job 

I went out on a limb at the beginning of my second semester and decided to take a shop class. This was a bit of a ways out of my comfort zone; I was more book smart and didn’t know the first thing when it came to tools. Taking a shop class personally taught me the most than any other class that I had taken in high school. Sure, I learned what I expected to learn: the tools and their functions, how to build a project, and so on. What I wasn’t expecting to learn, was the value of hard work. I had written papers that kept me up all night many times before. That’s not the kind of hard work that I am talking about. I’m talking about the sanding until your arm goes numb from the vibration and you’re not even near done, hard work. I’m talking about the agony of memorizing a ruler, not by the simple inches or half inches I was taught in elementary, but seeing a ruler with a whole new perspective, in eights and sixteenths. I realized that you must work your butt off if you want to even begin to compete with your competitors. If you cannot perform very well at a decent pace, you won’t be the one getting the job.   

Reality Check #6: Using This Time Wisely 

Now, as I sit here and type this, graduation is fast approaching. A part of me is sad, as I prepare my goodbyes to friends and a school that has truly helped me to thrive. Saying goodbye to friends isn’t a complete heartache, though. They are exploring the world, as am I, and plus there’s always email, right? I have had the wonderful privilege of attending a school where my teachers care about me as an individual. A school where I’ve greeted the office secretaries a “good morning” accompanied by a hug, each day. A school where my guidance counselor knows me by name and has always been a huge support (even if I changed my schedule three times in a single semester).  A school where teachers have given up their free periods to play scrabble with me, to let me read old newspapers or just to bounce good music off of (I’m not going to mention any specifics, Mr.Pfarrer). A school where the Superintendent has offered geometry help or discussed ancestry.com with me. A school with a true understanding of the word “community.”

Another part of me is excited for a fresh start. A new beginning in an unfamiliar environment. I’m not scared. I know that I can thrive wherever I put my mind. I plan to make the most of this time left here. With a clearer understanding of the world that I am about to emerge into. I know I will always have my Newfield family there supporting me.  

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