Graduating College Without a Cap and Gown

These past two and a half weeks have been busy, for all the right reasons. My classes have started to pick up and I’m very much enjoying being a senior. Since this is my last semester, I have been putting more of an emphasis on fun. As I should! So while things have been great, there’s something I cannot overlook: college is ending. 

All my peers are bracing themselves for “the real world.” Applying to copious amounts of jobs, rewriting resumés, going on interviews… and I haven’t. At all. And it is very strange! It’s starting to become very apparent how I’m about to go off the beaten path. A little more than a week ago I officially petitioned to graduate early. I also declared that I won’t be participating in senior week. At Bentley University, this is a big deal. Senior week takes place the week after finals in the spring. Bentley charters a plane and the entire senior class goes to the Bahamas for a week, comes back to Boston, has Senior Ball, then they all walk at graduation during commencement.

I originally was going to plan my travels around senior week so I could participate… but it doesn’t make sense for me to do that for two important reasons:

  1. I’d spend about $1,500 for a week in the Bahamas when that money could get me 3-4 weeks in SEA.
  2. I don’t feel emotionally attached to my college. This was not the best four years of my life, and I’m okay with that.

The later point feels taboo to say, but it is the honest truth. I’m lucky enough to say that I am graduating knowing that I got an amazing education. But socially college wasn’t ideal for me. There were many great moments, but there were also a lot of rough patches. These 3.5 years were really difficult. I can proudly say I won’t have changed anything, but at the same time, I don’t feel the need to dwell on things either. Skipping your own graduation is not a very common decision, but for me, it’s the right one. Why would I postpone my SEA adventure, or shorten it, just so I can formally say goodbye to a school that I don’t feel very connected to? I’m fine with college not being the best four years of my life. In fact, I’m relieved! I have so many amazing journeys ahead of me… I don’t want to peak at 21!

As the days pass, the excitement for my trip grows. The reality is setting in and the juxtaposition of my post-grad life versus my friends’ is making it that much more real. I’m so use to knowing what comes next, but I can genuinely say I am so excited for the unknown that awaits me. So, while all my friends and peers are wearing caps and gowns and walking across a stage to get their diplomas in May, I’ll be halfway around the world. I’ll be with new people, in a new place, trying new things. I think that’s the best graduation gift I can give myself.