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It was an odd feeling last week, signing up for classes for my last semester. Even more odd adding myself to the degree list. Fourth year musings…

And then I had to fill in a form asking what address I want my diploma to be mailed to, and that just felt pretty lame.

Junior year feels forever ago, even if it has only been less than a year. Freshman year is fuzzy, and high school might as well have been something from a past life.

It is that time of the year where everyone has settled into their schedules. It is the last stretch of midterms and papers. Besides schoolwork and fighting off senioritis, “what are your post-graduation plans?” is a common conversation among us seniors.

At this point, some of us may not have a 100% concrete career plan, but most of us have an idea of what we want to pursue, whether it’s a career or grad school. I look back at my junior year, when that pressure starts settling in — parents pestering you about your future job; aunts and uncles asking what in the world you are going to do with such and such degree; friends around you busy with internships.

It kind of reminds me of the pressure of junior year high school: the good ol’ SATs and college application days (Mm, scantrons and personal statements). Except this time around, it is even more open-ended. There are so many more options to consider and roads that have opened up. There’s less pressure, but at the same time, more.

I look back on the last three years, especially because of recent discussions I have had with underclassmen.

Major Declaration

Here at Berkeley, we’re told that you should declare your major at the end of sophomore year. I did it about halfway through my junior year. College websites say one thing, but everyone is different and it is not something decided so quickly. I reassured a sophomore friend that it’s okay that she it still undeclared. There is still time. Change your major if you need to, multiple times even. Consider minors, shuffle between majoring and minoring, or consider a double major. Continue to explore your interests, self-reflect on what you really enjoy, but in the end, choose what you love.

Get involved

Probably one of my biggest regrets is how uninvolved I was in freshman year. I was taking the minimum 13 units, and my mindset was, I’ll get settled in and then consider what clubs I want to join next semester. Let’s just say I napped. A lot. Freshman year is probably the best time to get out there, meet people, and dabble in different clubs. Some of the longest lasting friendships you’ll ever have may be kindled at this time.

Talk to people

A friend of mine just started college this year, and she jokingly asked, “This friending thing. How does one do it?”

I told her to get out there and just talk to people. Even just going with the standard, “Hi, what’s your name. What year are you? What major?” is a good starting point. People who are genuinely interested will answer and continue talking with you. Who knows, you might find a fellow (insert favorite TV show) fan.

Who would have thought that a simple question like, “Is this the right classroom?” would lead to some of the closest friendships that I have now; or “Is that for Astronomy? I took that last year!” to someone waiting in front of me in line in the bathroom, and then I would end up meeting them again at some club event.

College — A Little World of its Own

I have met so many people of different cultures, backgrounds and experiences since I started college. In a way, it is like a little global community. At the same time, it’s easy to get swept up in the college bubble: being surrounded by people your age, house parties, political demonstrations, and philosophical debates. We do sometimes forget about the outside world.

A recent graduate friend of mine who came to visit told me: Enjoy your last year of college. Four years of college goes by quickly, even more so the last year. Once it’s done, you’ll move away from the college town life and the comfort of being surrounded by people with the same level of intellect (most of the time). Most of all, she tells me that one of the things she misses most is being surrounded by people who are around your age, who understand what you are going through and who you can talk to at anytime.

Photo courtesy of Thiagoable via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).