I won’t miss senior year… a junior’s journey to college.

By Ryan Hauck

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The decision to apply to college this year was easy. Facing the questions from students... wasn't. Photo courtesy Ryan Hauck.

Since I got into the University of Southern California in March people have bombarded me with one question:

“Why did you decide to apply to college early?”

For the first week or so, I deferred the question with a non-committal response:

“There were actually a lot of factors.”

People weren’t happy with just that, so after a while I started telling people my basic motive. At Whitman, I worked for a GPA. I took classes based on what I thought colleges wanted to see. I got what I was going to out of high school and I wasn’t going to get any more.

While this line of reasoning struck at the heart of the matter, it wasn’t complete, and it really wasn’t all true.  Getting good grades was stressful, and I wasn’t always able to take classes that I liked, but I won’t escape either of these problems at USC.  What I was really trying to say was that at this point in my life, I feel more motivated working for a degree than a high school diploma.

But there was a deeper reason that I had trouble articulating for a long time.  If I’m lucky I might live to be 100.  If I do, then every year will amount to one percent of my life and I’m not willing to spend over one percent of my life doing something I don’t want to.  While the real world is daunting, I’ll have a year head start to stop dreaming and start accomplishing.

That being said, it was the follow-up question that people asked that usually got to me.

“But don’t you want a senior year?”

“Not particularly,” I replied.

Senior year is the “American dream” for underclassmen who envision it as the Shangri-La of grades where everyone has unlimited freedom and no one ever works. Juniors fail to realize that the only reason people love senior year is because they are no longer juniors.

I realize I’ll be missing out on some things next year: a Black & White editorship, Guy Poms, Mr. Whitman, taking part in a Talent Show where my friends are in charge, Battle of the Classes rigged in my grade’s favor and, of course, graduation. But most of these events are trivial compared with the opportunity I’d be passing up.

Seniors knew going into this year that there wouldn’t be another. But, until recently, I was preparing for another round, fearing long nights filled with college applications, so the end felt a bit anti-climactic. There were no spontaneous parking lot celebrations. No beach week to cap off my 12-year stint with MCPS. I just went home, knowing that I wasn’t coming back.

I’ll miss Whitman. I’ll miss my friends. I’ll miss the teachers. But I won’t miss waking up at six, getting nabbed for going out to lunch and disappointing Naviance comparisons. Most of all, I won’t miss senior year.

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