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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The unknown is OK too

Published: September 21, 2012
Section: Opinions

There are two different types of Brandeis seniors. The first sort resembles members of other class years, going to meetings, running club events and doing their homework at reasonably appropriate times. You would never suspect that these seniors have a deeply buried aneurysm-in-waiting because they know that inevitably, college has to end: for the great beyond doesn’t spook them. They actually sound credible when they confidently say, “I’ll just get a job somewhere; I’ll wing it—I’m sure I’ll figure something out.” Some of us are quite fine with the unknown. And some of us aren’t. This second type of senior is the cluster of unfortunate souls that I have found myself a part of, during this first month of my last year. This sort is decidedly not OK with not knowing where they’ll be on May 20. And so its members, and I have sentenced myself to be one, are buried in internship paperwork, application forms and test prep booklets; some even repeatedly go and demean themselves at the Hiatt Career Center.
The first sort of seniors are still thriving and enjoying Brandeis, while my sort are racing ahead, thinking of the day when we will leave it. While the more reasonable first group takes days one at a time and tempers worry with solid down-time, we type-two seniors are the ones walking around campus, blisteringly quickly, making a substantive appearance in the outside world far too infrequently because of the senior-autumn mania. We aren’t any more ambitious or responsible than our much-healthier peers—everyone at Brandeis is overextended. But we bring a large amount of additional stress on ourselves because we so greatly fear the twentieth of May.
I’m taking three or four practice LSATs a week. Now, of course part of the reason is because I love the law. It’s how I can best demonstrate my talents, and being an attorney is how I can best do some good before I die. If that were the only motive, however, I would not have taken so long to accept the wise counsel of taking a year off before law school. It’s the smart thing to do tactically, I knew: but I couldn’t bare the unknown for even a year.
The only way I could accept it was to go ahead and take the LSAT now, anyway. May as well apply now, just in case. So I’ve been taking them. Every day I take a full three-hour test, I can’t do anything else for the rest of the night, with the possible exception of fantasizing about poking my eyes out with ice picks.
The mania should stop. As much sympathy as I have for all of you who, like me, are afraid to look ahead to post-Brandeis without a definite plan, (and this includes underclassmen as well!), the first sort of Brandeisian just looks to be having a much better time.
Those of us who are constantly focused on the next step will wind up regretting it. We could miss the best part of the step that we’re on—the one we worked so hard to attain, to enjoy, with our mania a few years ago, in high school or our first year at Brandeis.
Seniors should be applying for fellowships, graduate schools or eventual job openings. Seniors, however, are also college students. One important factor is that we’re only 75 percent done with our degree transcripts—who’s going to hire or accept us if we bail out on a quarter of our first credential? More seriously though, this week, after spending the first month of senior year buried in stress, I’m enjoying being a senior when I’m not enduring an LSAT.
I’m still going to study and practice and apply, but that isn’t the only reason that I’m here and it isn’t the only reason I get up in the morning. I’m taking the best classes of my career and by now I have the experience and know-how to drain what Brandeis has to offer me to the fullest. To others: If I’d realized this as a sophomore or junior, I’d have enjoyed that year as much as first-year, too.
Uncertainty is horrifying. But it’s also what makes life interesting. After your latest internship deadline or GRE practice session, go out with some friends. Introduce yourself to random new ones, both of whom will be happy you got off of your maniacal pedestal to talk to them.
Nail your test, but not to the point that you want to drive one through your retinas. You’ll need them to read the map you use to navigate the great beyond.