The Black & White

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.

9 Comments

9 Responses to “I won’t miss senior year… a junior’s journey to college.”

  1. '09 on June 16th, 2010 1:53 pm

    ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm
    how could you possibly make that judgement without…having senior year

  2. '09 on June 17th, 2010 1:06 pm

    ^seconded. Unless you have actually experienced how amazing senior year is… you can’t make that judgement. Also… “Juniors fail to realize that the only reason people love senior year is because they are no longer juniors.” <– is complete bogus. We loved senior year because it was the culmination of everything we had worked for in the past 4 years. It was the one chance we got to see the classmates/friends/enemies that you have interacted with for about 7 years (assuming you went to pyle.. more if you went to the same elementary school as them) act when they are not stressed out. It is amazing how some people change when they aren't subjected to the pressures of a whitman education. I respect your decision buddy, and I wish you the best… but you are walking away from one of the most important years of your life.

  3. Alum on June 17th, 2010 7:08 pm

    I did both…but I have infinitely more time, freedom, fun, and academic success in college. Plus they actually treat you like an adult… Good for Ryan, USC is a sweet deal.

  4. Anonymous on June 22nd, 2010 6:35 pm

    Yeah, I had a senior year and trust me, it’s not all that interesting. Everyone makes it out to be such a great thing, but really it’s mostly stressing out about college acceptances and then being kind of lazy. Good for you for knowing what you want! Congrats on USC!

  5. soon to be student on July 1st, 2010 1:44 pm

    Only in 11th grade (10-11), but agree, my previous school has the same problem, some love senior year, others really don’t see the fun..like me, i’m not going to waste time from my important life to party and have fun, when i could do more and have more fun later, however, i’m going to senior year, it makes more sense for me…”for a lot of factors”- good article! Congrats on USC.

  6. '10 on July 12th, 2010 12:29 am

    while no one has a right to bash your decision, the way you talk about senior year is awfully negative considering you haven’t done it. trust me, its as good as they say. second semester is so stress free it’s amazing. not to mention you’re alienating yourself from your class… personally i wouldn’t have done it, but i hope you enjoy usc

  7. anonymous on August 24th, 2010 8:47 am

    I agree with ’10, though I think you go beyond just being negative–I think it’s a bit snobbish for you to make assumptions about senior year and how you feel during it. Frankly, I had far more work in my senior year than my junior year and I went out to lunch fewer than five times in the whole year, but I still enjoyed it. There’s a special mutual emotional transition that your whole class feels when everybody transcends the college app/acceptance/graduation process together. Everyone embraces for college the same way, meaning everyone becomes more open to each other. Kids who had always hated me in my grade began opening up unexpectedly. I think you are making a mistake in the name of unnecessary over-overachievement.

  8. anonymous on August 24th, 2010 11:44 am

    Ryan Hauck is a great man and an even better scholar!

  9. '10 on September 27th, 2010 9:20 pm

    after re reading this… wow