*Author’s note: this is a bit of a ramble-y/minimally edited post. I apologize if you were expecting my usual flawlessly polished writing. Be patient, loyal subjects.
This is my second semester as a junior in college, but since I spent last semester in London, this is my first semester as a junior on my actual campus. I didn’t expect that to really mean anything, but it actually feels quite a bit different.
I’m still finishing up a handful of general education courses (Gen Eds) that my university requires every student to take in order to graduate. Usually, people knock them all out in their first two years because they either haven’t declared a major program yet, or they’re not sure if they want to stay in the field they’re in. Gen Ed courses are great filler classes for kids who are still weighing their options.
That said, I got kind of lucky. I’m not 100% that I want to be in journalism, but it has been my major since my first day of college and I haven’t changed it once. I declared a minor in public relations last summer and I’m honestly feeling much more confident about that field than that of my major, but because I’ve been in journalism for almost three (!) years, my first few semesters consisted of a good balance between Gen Eds and major classes. Because of that, I’m a junior and still finishing some of the Gen Eds that my friends finished last year.
While there’s nothing wrong with that, I am now finding myself in an interesting position: I am one of the oldest people in the classroom in any given in Gen Ed. I have never been the oldest person. As a June baby, I didn’t even turn 18 until the day I graduated high school. But today, in my State and Local Politics course, the professor had us go around the room and introduce ourselves in a few words (Sidebar: Why does everyone hate doing this? I love this. I love talking about myself. I’m interesting as hell. Let me talk about myself. All day. Please.) Many of us had similar majors: journalism, political science, etc., but there were at most only two or three other juniors in the room. It suddenly hit me that I was in a room full of freshmen and sophomores.
Why did I feel so weird about that? Maybe it just hadn’t occurred to me that I was actually an upperclassman until that moment. Maybe I’m in denial about it. Maybe (probably) I’m actually kind of excited about it. I’m more than halfway through college. I know things. Do I get to share my collegiate wisdom with these kids now? Do I have authority over these tiny children? Do I have upperclassmen privilege like the bullies in Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide? (8TH GRADE PRIVILEGE, NERD.)
The truth of the matter is that I’m not a baby owl anymore. I’m finally one of the big kids, and I don’t know if I’ve ever actually been here before. You’re only ever in class with people in the same year as you for all of primary and secondary education, but every student in a college classroom is at a different point in their pursuit of higher education. It feels good finally being on the higher end of higher ed.