What an incredible feeling. After spending nearly four years at Oberlin College, I finally applied to graduate.
With finals season approaching, among many other things in my life at the moment, I experienced a small victory. I received a notification to apply to graduate from this school. While I knew that I was going to graduate in May, that notification still felt really significant to me. It seemed like a reminder of what was to come in the near future. After all, graduation is coming in five months.
The process wasn't difficult at all. As a matter of fact, it took a total of two minutes to apply to graduate.
All I had to do was check a box that stated that I was going to graduate in May and write my full name so that they have it recorded correctly. It's just the significance of the entire situation. I can remember my freshman year as though it were yesterday, and now, I just finished my application to graduate. Time flies, to say the very least.
With graduation looming around the corner, there's a lot to do and a lot to take in. For me, I just take everything one day at a time.
Applying to graduate put a lot into perspective for me. Earlier this semester, I felt like time was ticking closer and closer to the end of my college journey, but I also felt like it would move at a slow pace. Sheesh, I couldn't have been more wrong. Football season already feels like a blur, yet it just ended a few weeks ago. The transition from full-time student-athlete to just "student" is still brand new to me, even though I'm only going to be able to experience this "new" lifestyle for one semester.
As a (former) student-athlete at Oberlin, transitioning to "normal" student life has allowed me to focus on other aspects of my life more.
Football season took up most of my time at the beginning of the semester. Since retirement, however, I have been able to focus on my schooling, health, journalism, and the dreaded "future" plans that I have moving forward. I applied to graduate shortly after the season ended, and I feel like the timing wasn't a coincidence either. It felt as though one chapter of my life ended, and another small chapter of my life began with the countdown to graduation. Without football to use up a lot of my time, I started to think a lot more about my role here as a student and everything I've done outside of football. While I'm satisfied with all that I've done at Oberlin so far, I still have some things that I would like to accomplish before I graduate.
After applying to graduate, one of the first things I thought about was all the relationships I built during my time here.
I say this all the time: One of the best things that I have ever gotten out of Oberlin College is the relationships that I have built here over the years. With the last couple of weeks and one more semester to go, I want to ensure that I create as many memories with the people I have grown to enjoy here as possible, because after the time I spend here, it is highly likely that most of us will continue on separate pathways in different locations. Yeah, it may seem pretty saddening, but it is also exciting and inspiring to see my friends in my graduating class continue to do wonderful things in their career paths. Some of them won't even be living in America next year! The very thought of that may sound insane at first, but Oberlin has programs that provide work opportunities abroad. Since the study abroad program here is active, connections were made to other programs such as the Shansi fellowship. I don't have any plans to engage with any abroad opportunities, but it is comforting to know that the opportunity is there for my friends to take advantage of.
I'm not going to lie to y'all; this feeling is pretty overwhelming!
I have become so used to the consistency of college that I know for a fact that things will feel really strange around this time next year. Things already feel weird with football not being an active part of my life anymore. That transition in itself is still setting in, so I can't imagine how it's going to feel when I'm completely done with school at Oberlin. I have grown to make this place another home, and while it will always be considered as a home to me, I understand that there are greater things beyond Oberlin. The goal was always to get my degree and use it to elevate myself in my career moving forward.
Now that the goal is as close to being reached as ever before, things just feel... weird.
It felt similar to how I felt when I was experiencing the end of my football career a few weeks ago. I'm starting to turn everything into a countdown to graduation. Now that I think about it, this is the last time I'm ever going to experience a winter term. I finished all three of my projects, so I don't have to worry about completing another one this time around. Since I don't have a project to complete this year, I'm going to completely focus on grad school and job hunting. I might even engage with some additional research during the winter term period. After all, Oberlin students are given time from mid-December to February to work on their projects. Technically, winter term doesn't start in Oberlin until January. Fortunately, there's a holiday break period in December that allows for students to get off their feet and relax after a stressful fall semester. I am already searching for post-graduate jobs right now, so I feel (somewhat) ahead.
I feel some stress because of the nature of the situation and how much change I'm about to endure, but I also feel a sense of comfort despite the madness.
One of the things I've learned how to master at Oberlin is the ability to adapt to change. I have been placed in many adverse situations at this school, and while I struggled during those times, I was able to push through. I don't plan on changing this approach as I get closer and closer to my post-grad life. If anything, I'll rely on all the things I've learned from my experiences at Oberlin in order to succeed. Fortunately for me, I still have time to learn just a little bit more from this place. Applying to graduate just made my perspective even clearer.
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November 30, 2023