Graduation. The very word can spark different feelings in students. For some, it means the excitement that they are finally finishing school. For others, it gives them a feeling of accomplishment. But for most, the stress levels rise out of anticipation and maybe even fear of what lies next in their journey. Students are ready to burst just trying to do whatever they can to stay on track.
Katie Sprowl, a senior majoring in social work with a double in sociology, sheds light to this truth.
“What stresses me the most is that while I am trying to finish up at Castleton and dealing with the end of the semester projects, I am also worried about having to schedule additional interviews, complete essays and applications on a deadline. This is the most stressful,” Sprowl explains.
Many students are working on senior projects for their respective majors. These projects take a long time and put a definite strain on students who are trying to do anything and everything to get them done — along with other work professors give to them.
“It seems that when you should be enjoying things the most and enjoying the relationships and connections you have made over the last four years, instead you are too busy worrying about deadlines, money, and plans for next year,” Sprowl continues. “Students do not really have the leisure to spend a year off after school due to money issues and thus needs to have the next year plan already set once graduation comes.”
Sprowl has every reason to be stressed out. Following graduation, she will attend the University of New Hampshire for a master’s degree in social work. On May 26, only a week after graduating from Castleton, she’ll be going through a hectic 10-week summer session of classes and an internship to earn her degree.
Other seniors are stressing about different aspects of getting out of Castleton.
“The main things that are stressing me out are the two tests, information literacy and the quantitative reasoning,” said Mike Mason, a political science major who also has an interest in political journalism. “It just seems like there’s a lot of random requirements. The four frames of reference don’t have variety; you have to take a specific class.”
And for others, it’s a sense of loss that has them upset.
“For me, the most stressful part is leaving my friends behind,” said Jen Tripp. “Two friends in particular I have been close to since the first day of school freshman year. After four years together, it’s hard to imagine everyday life without them there.”
Tripp, who majors in forensic psychology, also finds it hard to focus on her classes when all she’s thinking about is what’s going to happen after graduation. But she said she knows she can’t let her grades slip.
“Senior-itis is kicking in and it’s quite a struggle,” she adds.
On April 8, it was Senior Day at the Career Fair in the Glenbrook Gymnasium. As seniors got in line to get tickets and other things required for graduation, fear wasn’t the only thing that could be seen in their eyes.
“I’m excited about graduating,” Brittny Mee, an art major, said as she stood in line to get her tickets. “My next step will be job searching.”
“I’m overwhelmed, but I’m hopeful for the future,” Ashley St. Peter, another art major added, while in the line with Mee.
The Career Fair, run by career development guru Judith Carruthers, as well as Senior Day, helps students to meet recruiters for different jobs. Carruthers sees it as a huge opportunity for students to take advantage of and see what piques their interests.
“I think they’re very nervous and afraid of what the next step might be,” Carruthers said. “So it’s a relief for them to come to a career fair like this and realize how many different opportunities there are, including lots of jobs right here in Vermont.”
Another student, Matt Landry, said he’s excited, but admits that he’s a little scared at the same time. Landry, a criminal justice major, hopes to travel around the United States a little bit before he starts his real job, but he’s not sure when that job will stat or what it will be.
“Everything seems to be up in the air a little bit,” Landry states. “But I look forward to the opportunities that are coming.”
Others share that fear.
“I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m nervous about what I can get for a job,” Chad Poljacik, a sociology major, said as he puts creamers into his coffee from the concession stand at the Career Fair. “I’m nervous, stressed out, but also excited. I’m glad to be getting school done.”
So are numerous other seniors who count down the days until they walk onto the green grass at commencement on May 17. When that day is done, the true challenges will begin.