When a new graduate is asked to reflect back on senior year, two thoughts run through your mind: first, “Can I do this without crying?”, and second, “Are you sure you don’t want my whole story?” I really wouldn’t mind telling you about my early childhood, tinkering with every gadget I got my hands on, and you know I could talk for hours about my middle school years when I discovered I could make a (very lucrative) business out of tutoring the other kids. But let’s be honest, every one of us wrote our “Why M&T?” essays about those things, so I’m going to try to focus on senior year.
Senior year begins with two of Penn’s most familiar acronyms, NSO (New Student Orientation) and OCR (On Campus Recruiting). Just as you finish welcoming the freshmen and, of course, simultaneously solidifying your dominance as a head honcho on campus, you are hit with a dose of reality; the reality that we are actually going to have to leave Penn and need to find something to do with our lives. Those lucky enough to have return offers cheer us on as we don our suits and bounce from interview to interview. Interviews don’t faze you anymore; we’ve been doing OCR since we were overachieving freshmen. Finally you get that offer (or in my bizarre case, finally get that return offer), and you think to yourself, now it’s time to relax.
Just as we begin to let our guards down, midterms roll in and we get hit by a cruel reality again, that although we are seniors, we are still in school. But for the first time we are taking a “reduced” course load (only five classes!), so those exams breeze by, we begin sleeping a whole seven hours a night, and pick up another extracurricular activity. The semester rolls by and you catch yourself thinking, “Could college have been this easy the whole time?” but by now you have no doubts that M&T was worth it!
You get back from winter break, and for the first time, you are not going through OCR. You try to offer genuine advice to the stressed juniors, but as Feb Club neared, your availability for mock interviews was severely limited. Feb Club was going to be great, but after 10 activities or so your excitement ended and normal life temporarily resumed (until spring break).
As all your friends jet off to South America, you and your best friend (you know, the one you met during M&T Day four years ago) board a train to Canada. Just as you begin to realize that maybe visiting Canada at the end of winter wasn’t such a good idea, Spring Break is over and you are back at school. And just like that the semester yet again flies by and it is Senior Week.
Senior Week, as you’ve been told countless times by the class above you, is amazing! As you attempt to finish your Penn “Bucket List” and attempt to hang out with every friend group you’ve had from the last four years, you realize how awesome Penn has actually been and that you don’t really want to leave. Some people are already crying, but the full reality hasn’t hit you yet.
And then Graduation! You realize that you should have worn more layers and that you should have gone to the bathroom beforehand, but it was still great. You introduce your parents to your best friends’ parents, and you wonder if they actually like each other or if they are just being polite, but either way their chat made a great photo opportunity (among the thousand others that weekend). Your family leaves and the reality sets in that you are done (in my case, I burst into tears for the first time about leaving). You begin to pack up your belongings, but the attempt is made futile by your friends wanting to say goodbye for the last time. You say your last goodbyes (while crying of course) and move back home, and you wonder is that the end of my time at Penn, my time in M&T.
As you sit at home (watching Netflix for hours) and contemplate whether you did everything you wanted to in college, you get an email from January from the M&T office asking you to write a reflection on senior year. You begin thinking about what you want to say, so you skim the other blog posts. You read the achievements of the alumni and wondering about that amazing network of which you are now a part. You smile because you realize that your journey as an M&T isn’t over, just like it didn’t simply begin with your admissions letter. M&T is part of you. M&T is for life.
Andrew is a recent M&T graduate in the Class of 2013, having received a Bachelor of Applied Science in Computer Science from Penn Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School with concentrations in Real Estate and Finance. This summer he heads to New York, where he will join Forest City Ratner Companies full-time. We will miss having Andrew on campus!