Final Year Blues: Making the Most of our Final Semester

Rhiannon Ní Chinnéide reflects on the ups and downs of the class of 2024

As we approach the mid-way point of the semester, the end is in sight for final year students. Only a few short weeks (and a frightening amount of work) stand between us and graduation. Endings like this bring about a lot of reflection on some of the best moments and the worst, as well as those that could’ve been. For the class of 2024, the first group to enter college during the pandemic, there have been a lot of moments lost. The excitement of freshers’ week, the buzz of campus life, the routine of in-person classes – all absent for half of our time at college. There is a sense of restlessness in the air as we try to make up for lost time, cramming in what’s left on our college bucket lists before the summer arrives. Whether it’s joining the ultimate frisbee club, volunteering for the Trinity Arts Festival, or writing for a campus publication, I’m sure most of us are doing all that we can to take part in college life for our final semester.

Some of you may be thinking: “Well, isn’t your final semester the worst possible time to take on extra-curriculars when you have a dissertation to write?” And to this I say: “Yes. Yes, it is.” I do not recommend trying to fit four years of college experiences into one semester, especially when you have the largest project of your academic career tapping on the glass for your attention. However, after years spent attending classes via Zoom in tea-stained pyjamas and making friends over cans in public parks, I no longer believe that there is any right way to “do college”. Yes, many of us are taking on too much in lieu of our imminent departure, but I do believe that this is better than the “too little” we took on during the Covid era, so I think I’m at peace with the current state of panic we’re all in.

The feeling of being an outsider has probably been more prevalent for our year than most”

Getting involved in college life is a daunting task for any new student, but for those of us who had to do this digitally, it was a monumental challenge. Trying to find your place in the endless labyrinth of societies, clubs, and teams was not easy when sat in your bedroom, far out of reach from any physical realities. Even after the final lockdown was lifted, it remained difficult for many to get involved, as we were nearing our third year of study and, in many ways, it felt as though it was too late to be starting from scratch. Going to a society event for the first time can often feel like you’re awkwardly trying to join somebody else’s friend group. It’s as though society life is a game of jump-rope, always looping around and impossible to join in on, let alone stay in. The feeling of being an outsider has probably been more prevalent for our year than most. 

Despite its rocky start, many of us have managed to make the most of our far-from-traditional college experiences. We have now had two years of normality to compensate for those years lost, and that time has not been taken for granted. Whether we’re writing shows for Players, hosting casual book clubs, or forming alt-rock bands, the class of 2024 have certainly turned lemons into lemonade and found new ways to connect and create meaning throughout our time in Trinity. Now, with only a few weeks left to go, the focus is shifting towards life after graduation. Students are rushing to find opportunities that might fluff-up their CV, schedule meetings with supervisors and career counsellors, and apply for grad programs (after googling exactly what a grad program is).

Soon, the world will be whatever we make of it”

The future is in sight, but that doesn’t mean we’re all ready for it. In many ways, it feels as though we have only just begun to settle into college life, and as quickly as we have arrived, we have to go. Although it is terribly exciting to have the rest of our lives waiting for us, with a thousand pathways we could take towards our futures, leaving the familiar structure of the education system will surely bring some challenges. Soon, the world will be whatever we make of it. While some of us are busy applying for grown-up jobs and master’s programs, others are planning to emigrate to whichever European city offers the cheapest rent prices. There will be a number of teary-eyed farewells this autumn as we depart from our community and the lives we have led thus far to go on and create new ones.

Although College for the Covid cohort has been less than ideal in many ways, I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world. Through a couple of online group chats and awkward first meetings, I have met some of the most amazing people who I hope to have in my life for many years to come. The lessons we have learned, the friendships we have forged, and the memories we have made have been worth the untraditional route it took to get here. Now it is time to take what our years in college have given us and hope that it’s enough to help us survive the big scary unknown of the rest of our lives.