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Perspective | New Year’s resolutions from a soon-to-be college graduate

2022 has barely even begun, and I am already clinging on to hope it never ends. This year marks my last semester of college and, with that, the last time I will be able to call myself a student. After 16 consecutive years of learning, preparing to leave that role has been difficult. Being in school is such a big part of who I am and what I know, and I am not sure I am ready to say goodbye. Even more, I am not sure what I am if not a student.

As I reflect on my time as a student, I know there is nothing I enjoyed more than having so much knowledge at my disposal. I have always had a profound appreciation for education. That much became clear early on, when I would plead with my mom to let me go to school even on my sickest days. I could not bear the thought of missing out on the happenings of the classroom. Later in life, I thought it best to take my sick days when needed – in recent years more so than ever.

Any time that I spent away from my role as a student, I ensured that I was still able to engage with those interests. I grew to love educating. I seized any and all tutoring opportunities and became enthralled with the transition from learner to teacher. After all, my teachers were the ones who molded me into the young adult I am today. As I prepare to enter the workforce, the knowledge they provided remains in my toolkit.

2022 resolutions

It is not easy to confront the reality that in a few fleeting months, I will be moving on from the memories of my educational experience. I will be stepping away from the classroom and into the office. Though I am excited to make use of all that I have learned in the “real world,” I fear what it will be like to leave the education space without imminent plans to return. Will I feel out of place? Will I lose the sense of purpose that has kept me diligently focused all of my life?

Ringing in the new year means dealing with this whirlwind of emotions. To ease the process, I have laid out some aspirations for myself:

Inevitably, I have hit some roadblocks throughout my college experience. The suddenness of the COVID-19 pandemic certainly did not help with that. As I near the finish line of what has been a truly tumultuous path, I intend to find the normalcy I have been lacking. That might seem like a lofty goal, considering what the past two years have had in store. But, “normal” can take many forms. In my last moments in college, I hope to rediscover the comfort I once found in my hobbies, study habits, and social circles before the pandemic wreaked havoc on what once encompassed my everyday life. Hopefully, 2022 will make the transition back to normalcy a possibility not just for me but for students nationwide who have also experienced pandemic-induced chaos in recent years. 

Even if I never make it back inside the classroom, I do not wish to stray too far from education. While I am unsure what path I will take after graduation, I hope that by integrating my interests in education into my field, I will be able to channel the radiating feeling of joy from within the classroom into my work. As a student, I have always been so passionate about my schoolwork, something I attribute to my genuine love of learning. I hope that wherever I go next, that passion does not subside.

Most importantly, I do not intend to let this be such a somber goodbye. I must remember that in some capacity, I will always be a student. I can and should continue to be an active learner. Even with a million diplomas and degrees, there are still a million more opportunities to engage with new information. As long as I do not let my curiosity escape me, I will continue to seek those opportunities out. 

These are my 2022 resolutions. I hope that in following them, I will rid myself of the constant dread for what is to come and instead replace that feeling with anticipation. I am eager to have the chance to learn in new capacities, in different environments, and from new people I meet along the way. 

Advice to others

I know I am not alone in fearing looming changes. However, the transitions I have accommodated, though fretfully, throughout my educational career are proof that I am fully equipped to adapt and succeed. In hindsight, I think that as a student I have learned to be malleable when unexpected circumstances come my way. And as a student during the pandemic, this is that much more true.

I hope that other students like me who are preparing to come face-to-face with uncertainty recognize that the challenge is just another part of the curriculum. As much as we may want to turn back the time and stick to what is familiar, there is some excitement that comes with a new year that brings with it a new chapter. So long as we accept this reality and abide by our own resolutions, we will be able to become enamored by the newness, rather than have the urge to retreat from it. 

Alessandra Quattrocchi

Alessandra Quattrocchi is an executive fellow at EducationNC.