By Erin Collins

Nothing can prepare you for the emotional rollercoaster that precedes your college graduation. You can watch friends cross the stage, generations before you, turn their tassels and perhaps even imagine yourself in the same position. But you will truly never know what it all feels like until you’re staring your own graduation in the face.

One day, it might hit you while you’re driving – you’ll think about how you’ve gotten all that you can out of this place, and that you’ve made the absolute most of your time in college. You’ll think about how, in one year, you’ll be in a big city, with a great career, at peace with the fact that your college days are behind you.

Then the next day, when your iPod is on shuffle and “Graduation” by Vitamin C starts to play, you’ll find yourself having to redo your makeup before class because you have mascara-stained tears rolling down your cheeks. Sometimes, random things will set you off, like the thought that in one year, in your new city and big-kid job, you won’t be able to simply take a walk around the quad if you want to.

Perhaps, if you’re like me, you’ll begin to feel as though your home is about to expire. You’ll be reminded that your friends will soon disperse and that nothing will ever be the same. You may feel as though your youth is ending. After all, you’ve likely heard many people say that college is the best time in your life, and soon, it’s all coming to a screeching halt. You’ll realize that one day, you’ll look back on your life right now as your “college days,” and that will scare you in the most unexpected way.

Those who focus on that side of graduation are looking at it entirely the wrong way. Sure, you may be closing the greatest chapter of your life so far, but that does not mean that greater ones aren’t ahead. Those who truly feel sad about the fact they are graduating college do not believe in their own potential. They may feel as though they’ve peaked, and because college has made up the best years of their lives so far, they don’t believe it will get any better.

It can be difficult to imagine life being greater than it is right now, especially when alumni tell you how much they miss college. Sure, down the line, you may miss certain things too, such as football games, formals, Tahoe trips, Sunday brunches at Archie’s and of course, your friends. Does this mean you should look back and mourn your college days after graduation? Absolutely not. Refuse to let yourself get stuck in the past.

Just as your college days have been unimaginably better than your high school days, life after graduation can be better, too. If you are hardworking, persistent, humble and kind, great things will happen to you. Believe that you will achieve incredible things. Never be intimidated by the magnitude of your own dreams. When it’s time for your graduation, be content with the fact that you are closing one great chapter, and prepare yourself for one that’s even better. Life may just surprise you.

Erin Collins studies journalism. She can be reached at and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.