Graduating students react to the stress of last year at UMN

The final year of college comes with both new opportunities and stress.


David Monterroso

Annie Bonde, a fourth-year student studying computer science, said she’s shifting her priorities during her last semester of college.

by Kate Prom

The final year of college represents a multitude of new beginnings, and with them, new anxieties. For many, stressing about grades or attending class becomes eclipsed by post-graduation plans.

Liza Meredith, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota, spoke about how “senioritis” can affect college students’ mental health during their final year.

“College seniors struggle with mental health due to searching for a new work environment, planning where they want to live, navigating romantic relationships, all at the same time,” Meredith said.

In addition to teaching Introduction to Psychology at the University, Meredith conducts research on the mental health of college students.

Meredith said the final year of school can be especially draining because motivation can often stem from anxiety.

“A lot of academic motivation comes from anxiety, and as you progress as a student, you figure out what you have to do to get by,” Meredith said. “Towards the end, it can get easy to lose an internal motivation to do well in school.”

As academic motivations decrease, anxieties about the future can take priority over class, Meredith said.

“Even though people are often excited for school to end, it’s also hard to kind of lose familiarity,” Meredith said. “Every senior is struggling with one thing or another, whether that is school, relationships or the future.”

Meredith suggested finding motivation in future goals for students who are struggling with juggling different things as their time in college comes to an end.

“If motivation is the struggle, it can be helpful to break down bigger goals into smaller pieces that require less motivation,” Meredith said. “This is the time to figure out your values for this stage of life.”

Annie Bonde, a fourth-year student studying computer science, said she has experienced a huge shift in her priorities this semester.

“I am reframing my attitude towards what I want my life to look like after college rather than just my individual classes,” Bonde said. “Bonding with my roommates and setting myself up for my future career is top of mind.”

On top of maintaining her classes, Bonde is also interviewing with companies in Chicago, where she hopes to move post-graduation.

“Senior year is scary and overwhelming but also really exciting,” Bonde said. “Finding a career where I feel I am making a difference in the world is really important to me. My classes do not challenge me as they used to, and I want a career that brings a challenge.”

Katey Van Vooren, a recent graduate, felt a similar sense of anxiety during her last semester of college. Van Vooren graduated from the University in December 2022 and is currently searching for a job in advertising.

“My last semester of college was the most challenging in workload and obligations, and I was burned out. It was stressful working on job applications and school work,” Van Vooren said. “I felt a lot of pressure to get a job right after graduation, but I wanted to enjoy my last semester. I had anxiety that I have never had before.”

Van Vooren defined senioritis as a “stage at the end of schooling when you are burned out and you feel too independent to be sitting in a classroom. You’re just over it.”

Since graduation, Van Vooren has been applying for summer internships and working part-time to save money for her next steps.

“I have been allowing myself to relax a bit because I still feel burned out from my last semester,” Van Vooren said.“I am still living on campus because my lease goes until August. All of my friends are here and my life is still here. I would like to see where a job takes me.”

Both Bonde and Van Vooren advised current seniors to be more present and enjoy their final year of schooling.

“Embrace change as opposed to fearing it,” Van Vooren said “It is a scary time, but take it one day at a time. Be grateful that you’ve made it this far and be proud that you are graduating soon.”