by Grace McGloin
I was a senior in high school, entering what many consider the “greatest years of my life.” People always talk about their college experience. The semesters abroad and the connections they made, and the places they went and the things they did. I loved my years in high school, but I never made things easy for myself, and I was eager to see what college would bring. I devoted most of my time to schoolwork, and my weekends were devoted to friends, family, and of course time where I allowed myself to put school on the back burner, and prepare myself for the next week. In my first semester of this year, I applied to sixteen schools. I wrote more essays in that short period of time than I’d ever written in high school. It surely wasn’t easy spending that much time applying to college, going to school every morning and still diligently studying and finishing my homework. I thought maybe my teachers would understand. Possibly assign less tests or homework. That, of course, did not happen. One thing was for sure, I kept myself busy. And anyways, I was happy that way.
In late February, my sister, mom, and I took a few days off to visit some college campuses. COVID-19 hadn’t yet warranted nationwide lockdowns, and was mostly a distant threat. We toured Purdue University and Michigan State University. Going into this trip, I was sure I would end up attending Michigan State. In fact, I never thought I would end up at Purdue. At first, the idea of going to Indiana wasn’t too appealing to me. But the campus was perfect. It was a big campus, but located in a small, charming town. The campus is beautiful and green, and each building is made of charming brick. I have already picked out my favorite coffee shop near campus, where I planned to sip my coffee and study for my first test of my college career. My sister and I have both made our deposits to Purdue University and are both so excited to be Boilermakers next year. We are just hoping we can have a normal freshman experience at the start of our college careers.
High school was going to be wrapped up in a pretty little bow for us seniors. I was going to enjoy my senior week, prom, and of course the senior trip to DisneyLand with all my friends. And I was going to graduate and decorate my cap and then throw it up in the air with all my friends and family there to celebrate with me. These things are more than a celebration of the end of these amazing four years: they are rights of passages; moments that commemorate all the hard work, late nights, emotional breakdowns, and of course, all the things we have gone through and come out of alive and stronger than ever. Going away to college was never going to be easy, but at least my last four months of high school would be time spent properly in school with my friends and family before I go off to Indiana. A time of celebration rather than one of further uncertainty.
Suddenly… everything changed. I wake up each morning hoping this will all be some crazy nightmare I’ve concocted in my head. I’ll go to school and see my friends. I’ll sit in class with all my peers and not worry about my health or the health of others around me. Everything that makes the end of high school so magical would still happen. Everything would work out exactly how I expected it to for all those years. But instead I wake up slowly, usually around 10:30 AM. At this point, my sleep schedule is pretty much nonexistent, going to sleep at different late hours of the night, and usually waking up late, or occasionally super early, which is always a surprise. I spend most of my days with my family. My cousin is back from college, and I’ve enjoyed spending more time with her. I also get to spend more time with my family. I feel very grateful that I can spend all this time with them before going to Purdue, but this still feels so strange and wrong. One day, I feel like I’ve adjusted to all of this, and the other I’m an emotional wreck. To keep myself busy, I’ve taken up some new hobbies such as art and baking. I decorated my cap in my living room with just my cousin and sisters there with me. I’ve also baked many more cakes now than I ever have. But I suppose that’s a good thing. In addition, I’ve started to work out with my cousin and sisters. Anyone who knows me would be surprised to learn I’ve started to work out, but now, It’s become a bit of a coping mechanism for me. But things aren’t all bad. In fact, I have a lot to be thankful for. My dad still has his job and I am very lucky to have my lovely, safe home to stay in. My family is staying healthy, and we are constantly finding unique ways to make our days feel good and normal. I just wish I could stop repeating “why now,” in my head every time I think about high school ending, and my college experience’s