Ask a fifth-year: Some advice for seniors

Dear Will,

Although most of these “letters” that you respond to are from “freshmen,” I’m a senior who needs some advice. I’m starting to really get sick of this place, but I don’t want to leave Lawrence feeling such negative feelings about where I’ve spent my last four years. What should I do?

Bitter in Brokaw


Dear Bitter,

All of last year, I couldn’t have hated Lawrence more. I was fed up with the egotistical professors, the overwhelmingly unreasonable amount of stress, the lack of aid I was receiving and, most of all, the oppressive social dynamics of the community. I was convinced that Lawrence was quite the opposite of a safe, supportive and friendly environment.

I’ve been doing some apartment-searching the past few weeks, as this is my last term here and I’ll need to move out in a few weeks. After dealing with credit checks, security deposits, creepy landlords and just the general fear of being a real functional adult, I drastically changed my way of thinking about Lawrence.

Of course, there are certainly exciting parts of moving on to full adulthood, but right now I can’t bear to think what life outside the Lawrence community is like. Yes, I’ve dealt with the worst here, but I couldn’t have been more wrong about my attitude last year. To be honest, I’ll likely never encounter a place that is as safe, supportive and friendly as Lawrence.

I like to think of this hate-love relationship as similar to leaving home after graduating high school. I was horrible to my mom before I left home. I couldn’t wait to get away from that place. But all through freshman and sophomore year, I was sometimes terribly homesick and couldn’t wait to get home for break.

I’m pretty lucky that I’ve realized how much I appreciate Lawrence before I’ve left. I’ve cherished every moment, friend, professor and assignment. Even though this has by far been the most stressful term for me, I realize that all of these moments make up the experience that has shaped me intellectually, socially and mentally.

You may resent a lot about this place, maybe for years after you leave, but I’m sure that like any big life experience, you’ll eventually understand and be grateful for how transformative your four or five years here have been.

A college education is so much more than a series of required classes that you have to take. Unlike anything else in my life, the experiences I’ve had here have challenged and reshaped the deepest parts of my identity. Nobody coming in to Lawrence really fathoms the depth and implications of the transformative nature of this experience.

In a few weeks, I won’t get to be challenged in this way. Life will be about bills and work. But I’m so glad that I’ve been able to cherish my last days here because I am aware of the privilege it is to be here. I encourage you to think about how it’s shaped you as a person, so that you soak up all that you can in your last twelve weeks as a Lawrentian.