And Just Like That, College Is Over

I remember that sunny August day in 2007, when I waved goodbye to my family as they drove back home and I was left here to fend for myself. I was finally at college, on my own, grown woman status. I could do whatever I want without my parents saying anything. I was free to come and go as I wanted. I could choose whether or not to go to class (which I always did, FYI). Also, I was alone. I knew nobody here. I had to start all over. At first college was rough, home sickness soon set in and I was ready to transfer colleges. As my freshman year went on, I soon started to love my school. I made friends and enjoyed college life a little bit.

Fast forward four years later; I’m having the time of my life. I found a small group of friends who turned from friend to into my family away from family. I’m involved in two award winning organizations, and have a job that I love. I am taking classes that I actually look forward to going too.

And now college is over. I’m done with college. On Monday, after I turned in my last test to my professor, he looked at me, shook my hand and said, “Congratulations, almost graduate.” I said thank you and left to catch the bus back home. As I was walked out of the business building, I turned around to look at the building I spent the last seven semesters in, my second home away from home. This was truly the last time I would ever have a class in that building. As I was walking across campus, it hit me: “I am done with college.” I looked at the buildings I had classes in and where I used to hang out at. My realization: four years went by so damn fast. In the blink of the eye, it’s over. School is over. I’m done with school.

As my professor told my class a few weeks ago, all we have ever known for the last 18 years is school. Since I was four, I always knew what I would be doing everyday and my days were already planned out. As I enter the real world, I wonder what is next. The uncertainty makes me nervous and scared. But I am also excited to see what the future holds for me. From my career to future relationships, life is about to change. And I’m ready, so bring it.

I hope you will join me on this journey called life in the real world.

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164 responses

  1. I completely understand how you feel. I graduated from college two years ago (omg has it been that long already?) and it had been an interesting and rocky road into adulthood. I will be following you 🙂

  2. Oh my gosh I’m still in college and having read your post makes me realize I’m going to finish college one day. That’s so scary! Honestly my biggest fear is to stepping out into this real world with no one to guide you. All I have in hand is a map and a torch light.

  3. This is super-great. I’m going into my fourth year of university in the fall…and I’m already scared by how quickly it will go by.

  4. Congradulations! I graduate from a 2 yr school next week, and will be transfering to a 4 yr school fall semester to start what I think of as my “real” college experiance… I can’t wait!
    – Jordan

  5. Congrats on your achievement and welcome to the “real world”! 🙂

    When I graduated university (in Canada), I was happy to be finished. At the same time, the the uncertainty of the “real world” and what it had to offer was scary! It takes some time to get adjusted. There are days when I still wish I could go back to the structure of school, tests and recess! Oh and did I mention the idealistic way I used to think of the world! But then I remind myself, that now I have the freedom to do what I want and can carve my own path (no matter how scary or daunting this path seems at times) to carve out my own future!

  6. This is how I felt this time last year! Except with more trepidation than you, it seems 😛
    It goes horrifically fast, doesn’t it?

    I’d be interested to know what your plans are, and how you get on in the big wide world. It is such a weird feeling finishing uni, and I think I’m still getting over it.

    Good luck!

  7. Congrats! I’ll soon be back at my alma mater reading from my new, second book. It’s lovely to return after a few decades with the knowledge that that you learned there was, in fact, useful!

    Best of luck as you move into the world beyond the formal classroom. Your greatest challenge now will be when, how and where you continue learning, and what you do with the knowledge you gather and choose for yourself.

  8. Congratulations! I also recently finished college and graduated last April 1. I had the same feelings, leaving the building I used to frequent, take classes for 8 hours a day. I used to stay at that building for hours, more than the hours spent at home. And now, we leave. 😦

  9. As an almost graduate, I understand your sentiments exactly. It seems like I just got comfortable here! It’s so strange to have the vast real world out stretching out ahead, huh? Best of luck!

  10. Wow! This is exactly how I feel about college. Somehow, after all the long hours studying and writing papers, it still didn’t seem like enough time. And it was a bit anti-climactic: I turned in a final, and that was it. I remember too walking very slowly back to my car just taking it all in and remembering moments I had around campus. But it is exciting to look forward to the future and the “real world.” Congratulations on graduating!

  11. Congrats! I remember well what that realization felt like (I graduated in 2009). The “real world” is wonderful, but those 4 years will always be special. All the best to you!

  12. I too am graduating college this semester. Where did all the time ago?Your last paragraph about sums up how I feel too. Congratulations on graduation and Freshly Pressed, and good luck in the future!

  13. I remember feeling the same way when I completed my schooling. It can be frightening, but it is also exhilarating too! Enjoy your new freedom from school!

    Congratulations on finishing your degree and for being FP! 🙂

  14. Pingback: And Just Like That, College Is Over (via ) « A Bit of Everything

  15. Congratulations! While it is scarey, it is also a wonderful time, time you get to choose what you will be doing for the “rest of your life” Don’t forget to visit your career services office before you leave campus. Utilize your resources for finding that job! 🙂

    Good Luck and enjoy your wild and wonderful life. Looking forward to reading more!

  16. Congratulations! While it is scarey, it is also a wonderful time, time you get to choose what you will be doing for the “rest of your life” Don’t forget to visit your career services office before you leave campus. Utilize your resources for finding that job! 🙂

    Good Luck and enjoy your wild and wonderful life. Looking forward to reading more!

  17. The day I left my college, I said my last goodbyes by the huge wide open gate..
    Never thought that I will be just back after I got hired there..
    Sweet memories..
    M studying now in a new place.. and moved to a different place to work
    Very far from each other, very different..
    Believe it or not, I treasure every moment here and there
    Feel sweet to recall even the painful, hectic days..
    I love school and work.. They made the new of me..
    Loved ur blog 🙂

  18. Congratulations. I am (sort of) in the same position. I’m going to graduate from High School on May 20th. I’m really nervous about University, but since I’m taking a gap year, I have a year to prepare. Hopefully it won’t be too traumatic. ♥ Jessica.

  19. “Welcome to the real world, she said to me, kind of singly”
    I tell every young adult when they get to this point that the most important thing you have to keep ON THE TOP of YOUR MIND is:
    You are now the only one who is looking out for your best interest. You have to remember that the only person who is considering you first, you as #1 is YOU. Make your decisions based on that. Mom & Dad will no longer think about your schedule when they plan trips, outings or family budgets. You have to keep true to you and stand up and be confident in doing what really FEELS best for you, even if it does not mesh with everyone else’s plan or ideas. Whenyou go home at night, you are the only person responsible for you, so thinking of how your decisions affect others is not important if they are The Best for You!
    Being a Gr’up is scary, stessful, tiring and so lame compared to being a kid. The only bright side is you can do what you feel in your heart and gut is best for you, that will take you in the direction of your goals, without having someone to tell, oh no do this instead.
    Congrats, and good luck! Great Freshly Pressed piece!!! AmberLena

  20. Congratulations. 🙂 Welcome to a world where whether or not you have succeeded is a much murkier and far more subjective determination than which of the first four letters of the alphabet is written at the top of your work.

  21. Congrats on FP!

    And I totally understand what you’re feeling right now, ‘cos I’m going through the same stage as well! Classes just ended for me last week and I’m just a week away from the 2 final exams that I might be taking in my life!

    How scary! But I’m sure there’s more excitement to look forward in the working world. Be optimistic:D

  22. Congratulations, College Graduate! I know exactly how you feel. School is all we know for so many years and you wake up one morning to the realization: I don’t have class anymore. After a few years in corporate marketing, I went back to school to get certified as a teacher. Now, I’m at school everyday again. How does it feel to be in the teacher role? Different. Very different. It’s surreal and unfamiliar all at once.

    God speed. I”m glad I found your blog so I can follow your journey as you navigate this place called the Real World. (it’s a jungle out here!!!!)

    Blessings,
    Nicole

  23. I’m graduating in a week as well and can’t believe it! It’s both exicitng and daunting. I wish you the best! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  24. It sounds like you’ve got your ducks in a row and you’re emotionally mature — a lot more than many college graduates can say. The road ahead of you is long, but bright. Welcome to adulthood!

  25. Congrats to you on graduation and freshly pressed! I graduated three years ago and am now blogging about closing in on 25– eesh! You thought college was the best time you’d ever have, and it was at the time, but I bet you’ll be surprised at how much fun you’ll have choosing your own adventures day-to-day and really being in charge of your life’s direction. AND not having schoolwork to do every weeknight! Have fun, and good luck!

  26. Congratulations on graduating college and good luck on setting off on your journey outside of college. It’s almost like a surreal moment when you find out its over, but you have a whole new adventure set out in front of you to experience outside of college. Enjoy it!

  27. Congratulations on your upcoming graduation. As Neil Young once sang, “I feel like goin’ back…” Do you know who Neil Young is? If not, Google him. We didn’t have Google or Internet when I was in college. And that was just a blink ago.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. May your readers squish you flat! 😉

  28. I remember that feeling! Congratulations on this exciting time in your life! Remember to ALWAYS take your lunch break and use your vacation time! It will rejuvenate you to come back and do great work.

  29. i’m sure you’re future is very bright. after all your first post got featured on freshly pressed!! 🙂
    i’m just starting college. and i hope i get through to the place you are in right now 🙂

  30. When I finished school, I had already decided that I was moving to a new city. I had all of the arrangements made and I moved about 3 days after completing school. So at the time I couldn’t wait for school to be over, but thinking about it almost 6 years later makes me realize how fast it went by. I just wished I cherished it more.

  31. Your post brought tears to my eyes as I remembered my last days of college, I graduated in 2008 and the time since then has flown by much the same. Good Luck on your next adventure and do not forget to give yourself a little break before breaking into full time adulthood!

  32. Hey
    I emphatise with you. Great post! I terribly miss my college days and how I wish it could go back in time.ahem!ahem!

  33. I just came across your blog from the WordPress main page. I completely sympathize with you; I’m graduating tomorrow and the whirlwind of emotions is completely crazy. Best of luck to you with all your future endeavors! Our generation is going to do BIG things, I’m sure. 🙂

  34. Good Luck!! This will be such a great time for you. I graduated two years ago. College went so fast…these two past years went even faster. Please enjoy free time you have after school before you start work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. I remember the exact same feeling when I graduated college. It was so bittersweet and scary. It’s hard to believe I’ve been in the “real world” 14 years. Yikes! I loved college though — it was so fun to learn, be with friends and not be a full-fledged adult life. I remember feeling very sad when it was over. Congratulatons to you!

  36. And here I think it’s hard just finishing a semester and leaving for a summer. And I live at home still. I was suppose to graduate this year and seeing all my classmates graduate seemed so scary.

  37. i’m 27 and still miss college dearly. i’d live vicariously through my sister, but she literally finished classes yesterday and her graduation ceremony is tomorrow. nuts.

  38. Hey, congrats on finishing. I’m just finishing my Freshman year (Junior standing, though) and I can relate on a few levels: first, how damn fast college goes! This has been the fastest 9 months of my life! I wish you luck in all you do.

  39. Wow – Lovely post. I’ve just worked out that my leaving college was 18 years ago, and I still miss it some days. Keep those ‘new family’ people; they’ll be the best companions you could ever wish for, however far away from each other you finish up and however differently your lives progress. x

  40. Congrats on graduation and sticking it out to find something that you are proud of in spite of all the early adversity you built something you love. Good luck and much success in life, and congrats on being pressed!

  41. I just finished my freshman year, and it’s even setting in for me toothat I only have three more years left of the “school” thing that has been my life since I was five. Best of luck to you.

  42. I came across your blog today and I got completely sucked into this post! I have one final left in my freshman year and everyone keeps saying that it goes by fast, but I don’t know if that part of this whole journey has really set in yet.

    Congratulations! That must feel spectacular.

  43. The Great Wall 🙂 We’ve managed to climb over it, but are now on the other side where mountainous ups and downs await in life.

    I just finished college in Montreal and am sad to leave my city of four years, but am uber excited for the new journey as well! Godspeed.

  44. First of all, congrats!!

    Secondly, I just had to comment because it’s so strange– I was just thinking of writing a post about college and then I saw the link to this on freshly pressed! Tomorrow I’ll be taking my last final as a college freshman and going home for the summer. IT’S SO WEIRD. You can change so much in a year, you know? I’m already wondering what my next three will bring. It’s great to see that you’re looking forward to what life will have in store for you… hopefully by the time I’m there, too, there will be just as much to be excited about!

    Thanks for the great post and good luck “in the real world”! (:

    – Kimberly

  45. I know exactly how you feel. I finished university at the end of last year, and it’s a little daunting, especially considering the fact there are so few jobs in the field I studied (journalism/writing). I guess that’s why I’ve run away to Thailand… anything to put off adulthood for a little longer!
    Best of luck out in the “real” world.

  46. Congrads, another phase of life is about to kick in. Im sure you will do well! I’m graduating next monday with my four year degree as well. I plan on taking a break for a little bit.

    • Congrats to graduating. Your actually graduating before me. I wish you all the best of luck as you start the next chapter in your life. As for me too, I’m taking a break from school

  47. Congrats! Today marks four years since I’ve graduated college. Trust me, the next four years will fly by even faster! 🙂 Enjoy what life is going to throw at you!

    • Thank you! Four years ago I was in high school getting ready to graduate. Four years later went by so fast. I’m really excited to see what’s next.

  48. Congratulations on your achievement! Your post brought back a lot of memories for me as an undergrad and as a graduate student. Your life from now on will be what you envision, strive for and achieve, as you have done so with your college education.

    Best wishes!

  49. Wow, it’s getting to be that time of year and I really hope that as your college life ends, you are able to enjoy it and the new life in front of you. It sounds like it’ll be exciting and I’m glad you’re going to have your writing to look back on as well as sustain you forward. Congratulations and good luck!

  50. Hello Cassandra –

    As you discovered, college flew by you in the blink of an eye. You will remember those 4 years for the rest of your life. Some things you did to have fun there, you will most likely not ever have experiences like them again. Cherish those memories and be happy you have them. Congrats to you for graduating and making it through all 4 years. Certainly you witnessed many students and some of them friends of yours, who didn’t carry on at your school to complete their degrees. You did. Kudos and happy Thursday evening. 🙂

    • Thank you Charlie.
      I did see many friends and classmates who started with me and didn’t finish with school. College was quite the experience and I’m if I could do it all over again, I would not change a thing. I hope life is just as good as college has been.
      Have a great Friday and rest of the weekend.

    • Thank you. In all I’m amazed I even made it to freshly presses on my first post. I’m even more amazed at all the responses I have gotten so far I didn’t think I would reach so many people as I did in less than 24 hours.

  51. Welcome to the real world indeed. I’m sure your future will be as fantastic as the way you write.

    Yeah I know how you feel, I for one have been graduated from my BS degree for what 3 years ago and now that I’m almost done with my Masters degree I really don’t know what to expect in this real world.

    • I must applaud you for almost being done with your masters. It takes a lot to go back and get your masters. I’m going to wait a few years before I go back and get mines. Does anyone ever know what to do with their life? With life we just have to take it as it comes.

  52. Your post summarizes exactly how I feel at the moment. I am about to graduate, too. Go figure, right? I’ll be right there with you attempting to figure out what to do next.

    Xara Nahara O’Connor

    • I guess that’s the exciting part in life now, having no one to hold your hand to guide you through life. It’s all up to you to make the best of what your given. I’m sure post graduate life will be great.
      Congrats on graduating.

    • Traveling would be so wonderful if I had the money. One day though.
      Aren’t we all screwed once we receive that first bill payment or student loans? 🙂 I am so not looking forward to paying bills.

  53. Totally right there with you! I’m graduating in June and have been thinking the very same things you wrote, verbatim. I know everyone’s going to be telling you about how uncertainty isn’t a bad thing. . .but seriously, its not! We got this, and we’re gonna take life full force.

    Grats on grad and on freshly pressed. 🙂

    • Thank you. And congrats to you for almost graduating.
      Yes we do have this. Watch out world, we are going to take the world by storm. 🙂

    • Thank you. Trust me, college will go by so fast. As for what I plan on doing, I still have no idea but I’ll figure this all out soon. Iwould like to travel to Europe. Where do you want to travel too?

  54. I just posted basically the exact same blog post the other day, only… much longer. Ha. It sounds like I had the exact same experience as you. I am graduating now, I’m never going to another class again, and I started college at the same time as you and in the same way – leaving my childhood home and going to school 2000 miles away knowing not a single person, but now I have a life here and it’s insane that I am entering this world that we’ve only been working towards our entire lives. It went by so quick. How do we even experience life without the structures of school? I still see my years in semesters. Now we get the chance to break free of that. But it’s strange. It’s scary. It’s awesome.

  55. You’re me in one year! I’ll be following you to see what might be in store for me later! I just started my blog which will follow me on my last year of college. I’m going to New York in the spring of 2012 for an internship so my blog is mainly following that journey. good luck with everything! enjoy every second of the next few days before you graduate!

  56. oh and i don’t know why clicking on my name won’t take you to my blog. i’m trying to figure that out now! but until then it’s audreyandthecity.wordpress.com

  57. This post made me a bit sad. I graduated last year and the feelings you describe are how I felt at that time. I miss school a lot and maybe I wouldn’t miss it as much if I knew what the hell I wanted to do with my life.

    I’m gonna keep on reading your blog 🙂

  58. Congratulations. Believe me, it ALL goes fast. Savor everything, try very hard to do only what you love. You will be looking back on your life in no time — I’m 53 and can’t believe I’m not 20! Time speeds up as you get older — or at least it feels like it does. Don’t waste it on compromising — do what you love. Said it twice but meant it even more than that. If you want to travel, travel now. Don’t wait. Get a good seasonal job, save your money, then go. If you wait — guess what? You won’t go. It’s great to be young. Take advantage of your youth and energy and explore! You only get this one life and it’s a pity to look back and have regrets.

  59. college may be over but there is a new , exciting and adventurous world that awaits you. All you need is to start spreading your wings and soon you will be soaring with the rest of us ( postgraduate, working individuals) . congratulations. you’ve earned it.

  60. Congratulations!Is impressive, I’ve written almost the same words when I finished school last year. But…active life really is nice! =)

  61. Being scared is part of the experience. Comfort is though, you have done so well the last time you were scared and had 4 amazing years and new friends. You can do it again. We have to enjoy every part of our lives because they come and go. Onto bigger and better things. Best Best of luck!

    May this new step be better than ever expected. Congrats on finishing college, that is incredible. Hard work will pay off. And congrats on being FP. You deserve to see how amazing things can just keep getting. And you just got out. 🙂

  62. with every good things coming to an end is just like tired person who wants sleep little more. those bright sunny days, the fun we had in May,
    the first day experience, with zeal & endurance,
    the first sight, and the prom nite.

    O jeez!!! i miss my days at college. Time flies, Memory Remains

  63. You choose the life you live, sure you’ll get some knocks even ones that hurt real bad but if you can just duck a few and roll with the punches you will be okay.
    Your life is yours alone, nobody can do it for you, just you, stay strong, keep focused and smile.
    I’m 57, I feel 75 at times and other times I feel like I just quit college, make every day count for something, learn something new, do something different, don’t get into bad habits.
    If you find that your friends hold you back, make new friends, you know something I’m more excited today by what tomorrow has in store than I was way back then, you can do it, you must.

    Hey and one more thing, well done, you graduated and you wrote a good blog piece, that’s two things but I never was good at the math!

  64. Pingback: Goodbye University, hello real world « littlemisseverything

  65. I alternate between thinking nothing changes and everything changes. I’m still me with the same folks and siblings. I flailed a little at college. And adapted a lot. The new experiences I have fine-tune me now. I went to bed the other day in my first T-ball uniform (the night before my first game). I blinked a couple of times, rolled over and kissed my wife because the baby was crying and hungry.

    It is fast… but oh so good.

  66. Good luck on your new adventure! I remember the feeling you describe so well. I was sad when my college years ended, but excited too. Ironically, for me, my career path brought me back to my college a few years down the road, and I’m still learning there, only now as a staff member. Hope the future is full of wonderful opportunities for you!

  67. Congratulations on your achievement. I graduated college in ’06 so I remember the feeling at least a little bit. But one thing I was absolutely sure of as I left school was that I wasn’t going to be nostalgic for school. It was strange, because for my entire life as a student I’d enjoyed school and excelled at it. But I felt utterly finished by the end of my last senior semester. A lot of people have said to me that high school and/or college are the best years of your life, but I pity folks for whom this is true.

    A major difference between college and “real life” I noticed on my first job out of college was the sudden lack of structured, quantified feedback. I was used to taking a test or handing in a paper and getting a specific grade on it to measure my work. But on my first real job, when I had completed an assignment well, no-one wrote an “A” on it. My boss just assigned me something new. I hadn’t known how much I had relied on the system for academic feedback until I left it.

    I’ve had an odd and interesting career path since then, but while I do not want to go back to school, I’ve realized that what I need in my job is to always be learning new things. This is a recent piece on my blog you might enjoy, about school learning versus the things you can learn about afterwards:
    http://alainamabaso.wordpress.com/2011/04/21/from-the-only-person-in-town-without-a-masters-degree/

    Learning is so much more fun in the real world than it was in school, I find. Good luck!

  68. Congrats on not only finishing college, but having a job you enjoy. Two big accomplishments! My best recommendation? Make sure you keep in touch with your college buddies. I was so sad after graduation because it meant I’d probably never see my friends again (they live overseas). We’d had so much fun (and got into so much trouble) –it was a sad ending to some wonderful times.

  69. congrats. my son graduates next week with an engineering degree. He has had a tough four years. I’m glad it’s over as it was tough on me too. He has a job so now the fun begins – life. Good Luck to you on your next adventure enjoy the ride of your journey.

  70. Pingback: And Just Like That, College Is Over (via ) « LOMO Space

  71. I can totally relate to this because I am also about to graduate high school on may 13:D
    thanks to this post, I now have a clue about college life and that I should just enjoy it
    because it comes by so fast. Thanks, Congratulations, and Keep it up! 😀

  72. I am now in my last year of college. I completely agree that college went by really fast. I wonder what happens after school. I feel the same way, nervous and all. Whatever your future endeavours, good luck.

  73. I don’t even want to pretend to believe that I am ready for the real world, so I’m putting back graduation as long as possible. It’s terrible but… yay more college experiences?

  74. It’s amazing how life goes by so fast. When you graduate it feels like a heavy weight has been lifted, but then you have to figure out what to do next. There’s always been a step ahead, but once you reach the top, the paths are unlimited. Congratulations! What did you think about going through college? was it worth it?

    http://amandatse.wordpress.com/

  75. I couldn’t have agreed more with your statement of how we always knew exactly what we have to do the next day and years to come when we were in high school/college. Its almost a like a mental map & guidelines that is most prominent and darkly inked when you first begin, which keeps fading over the years and disappears as the years progress.

  76. I could relate a lot to your story, as I recently graduated as well. College really allowed me to find myself, but I’m excited about what this new adventure called “The Real World” will bring. 🙂

  77. You made me recall my school days. Those were the most beautiful moments of my life, i feel so nostalgic at the fact that those days will never return….:(

  78. Pingback: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…. «

  79. Pingback: It’s Hard To Say Goodbye «

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