Your very first day of college classes freshman year is a whirlwind of new experiences, especially if you’re nursing your first real hangover. You have no idea where you’re going, and to make matters worse, you are about to be met with the painful realization that no one dresses up for the first day of school like they did in high school, and you look ready for picture day.
Your first first day of classes stands sharply contrasted in your mind as you begin the last first day of college classes your senior year. Here you are again, for the eighth and (hopefully) final time, about to take that first step out the door toward a new semester. These two days hold the exact same components, yet everything has changed.
Freshman Year: Waking up for class on the first day of classes your freshman year likely began with your alarm buzzing every hour starting at 5 a.m. You anticipated your alarm going off, and you were horrified at the idea of being late and setting a tone of tardiness and delinquency for the rest of your college days. When your feet do finally hit the floor for real, your heart is aflutter, your stomach is a little tight, and you can’t wait to make coffee in your little single-serving coffee maker like a real college student.
Senior Year: Waking up for class on the first day of classes your last semester is likely done approximately twenty minutes before the beginning of that first class. A bittersweet feeling of “this is the beginning of the end” sweeps over you, quickly replaced by the feeling of “I haven’t gotten up this early in five weeks — dear, sweet baby Jesus this is awful.” You actually really need the coffee, now…and possibly a defibrillator.
Freshman Year: For my first day of class freshman year, I wore a coordinated but trendy skirt and top with strappy sandals and a headband. Yes, a headband. Still in my Blair Waldorf-wannabe stage, I fell prey to the same delusion so many first-year students of higher education do: that people care what other people are wearing. This outfit was likely picked out the night before (or several nights before, if you were a real type-A control freak) and evaluated for the perceived message it would send to professors and classmates. Ah, to be young again.
Senior Year: The last first day will definitely be some combination of whatever clean leggings, boots, sweatshirt, and functioning T-shirt are most accessible. It’s cold, you’re definitely living farther away from that first class nowadays, and absolutely no one will care that you didn’t apply anything other than concealer and mascara, including you.
Freshman Year: Considering this is likely the first time a new student has walked around campus solo, it’s amazing anyone makes it to class on that first day. Voyaging to a classroom in a building labeled only by its acronym on your schedule feels like a scene out of a sitcom: the lead character rushes around in a blurry daze to the sound of harried instrumental music. It’s pretty much exactly like that. You finally arrive, breathing a little hard, sweating off a little of that makeup you so carefully applied an hour earlier. Simply put, you’re thankful you left half an hour early.
Senior Year: By the last first day, you could navigate campus with your eyes shut. And you do, partially, as the morning still feels ungodly early. You make it from your front door to your seat in a matter of minutes, ducking in smoothly as you make a beeline toward a row of friends. The beauty of having someone to sit with in every class is special, indeed. You’re not sure how you got through a class without the mutual beneficial partnership of a classroom buddy who both gives you her notes and signs you in when you’re
Freshman Year: First day of freshman year generally included a backpack with fresh notebooks, a fully-stocked pencil case, and every single book on the list. You were the picture of preparation, and had two Five Star three-subject notebooks with dividers and pockets to prove it.
Senior Year: Your last first day supplies include whatever notebook from the previous semester that has the most blank pages in it, a pen likely jacked from whatever bar tab you last signed, and your phone charger. You know better than to buy all of the books before that first day, and even when you do have them, they’re light enough to fit into your cute tote. No more lab manuals, history tomes, or anthologies for you; those days — and fifteen-pound books — are in the past.
Freshman Year: You probably went out the night before the first day of class freshman year, because you didn’t want to kick off your college career in the most boring way possible. Since most prior drinking experiences involved cheap beer and peach schnapps, it’s not too far-fetched to say that this newfound access to the hard stuff may have left you less than bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next morning. Nothing a heaping helping of greasy, delicious, artery-clogging dining hall food couldn’t cure, but it was still unpleasant, nonetheless.
Senior Year: By your last first day, you barely even register the faint pulse of a wine-induced baby headache that has become the standard end to pretty much every night. Whether that was a night on the couch with your roommate, enjoying whatever show you two watched together like an adorable old married couple, or a night spent slapping the bag at somebody’s apartment before hitting the bars is pretty much irrelevant.
Freshman Year: On your first day, you texted your roommate, a new pledge sister or two, and a girl from down the hall to ensure there would be someone to sit with in the dining hall during lunch. You felt so unbelievably cool swiping in. You were practically feeding yourself! Well, if you didn’t think about the chefs, the cleaning crew, and the fact that your parents are paying for it all — which, of course, you didn’t.
Senior Year: Even if your roommate is busy and no one else has the same hour-long break that you have, by your last first day, you’re totally fine with sitting alone in whatever café meets your culinary tastes (involves cheese) and budget (cheap enough to still afford wine for the month)..