I always think about my time in college as the separation of two worlds. My home life and my college life do not collide and there is something practical about that setup. Yet in nearly a month one of my worlds comes to an end. It is interesting to think that I have been able to record the countless and ceaseless thoughts and changes I have gone through college in this blog.

I must confess that at this point I am feeling a little burnout just about everything. I feel that college has been this insurmountable pile of work that keeps going and it does not stop. I have gone through most of it, but I think about the remaining work I still ought to do before my graduation date, which is on May 19th. I do not think about the work as pointless, but when one gets to senior year, one can definitely feel the toll the previous years has put on one’s shoulders.

Spring break is coming soon, this week actually, which at Brandeis we have it sort of late—right around Passover and a little bit during Holy Week, later than the other colleges and universities. For spring break, I will be going on a trip to Greece with one of my best friends (the one who flew with me to multiple locations while abroad). Although I am excited about the trip, I also have deadlines approaching me and all kinds of pressures that I am not sure how to handle. One would think that after seven semesters one has it together. My conundrum at the moment is, should I care too much and try to be perfect? Or should I try to, at least enjoy this unique opportunity of going to Greece and see Athens and the island of Mykonos for the very first time and set academics a non-priority?

Ever since last semester, I know it may sound ludicrous, but I stopped caring too much about my GPA. We as students kill ourselves so much over a number that measures nothing and it often stops us from enjoying the best things in life. My grades last semester were not terrible, but they were not the best either and yet I did not care. In fact, I felt I learned quite a lot last semester.

There are pros and cons to be in college. I do have to acknowledge that it is a privilege to be here when many people cannot say the same. What I am tired of is still being restrained of following certain requisites and protocols. This semester for instance, I am taking a class on ‘monsters,’ which I absolutely detest. I had to take it for one of my majors, which at this point I am a trifle over it, as I am having a difficult time not feeling utter regret for not having taken classes in Economics and majored in International Relations. Oh, well! My education was very liberal arts style, yet I feel that there are missing parts. I feel that, while every semester in retrospect has brought challenges academically, I still feel a thirst for more and regret feeling that I shied away from more difficult classes out of fear of wounding my GPA.

Hence, one of my advices is, even though GPA matters, do not base it when make your decisions on what you are going to major in or picking classes. Take a chance and believe in yourself that you can do it, that you will work hard towards understanding the material. In the end, I know that regretting does not do much unless I had a time machine, but I can always look into the future and teach myself. I do it all the time anyway and I do not need to take a class to learn more about markets or scarcity. The other day I was listening to a YouTuber and he was listing the reasons why he did not attend college. He said that almost all information about the world are at our reach, through the Internet. Then I thought about how college is mostly one teaching oneself constantly, through readings, learning how to solve problems, writing papers, etc. It makes sense.

A part of me, mostly in terms of academics, is glad that I am graduating. Not because I will not have to open another book in my life (I cannot live without books and learning).

In fact, I love learning for its sake. But I do not appreciate the focus on grades. I wish we could celebrate more failure as it is one step closer to mastering something, yet we do not. For my Master’s at Columbia, I learned last weekend, as I attended Admitted Students Day, that all my classes will be pass/fail and that I can fail a class and still graduate with my degree. I cannot tell you what a relief that is as, for me, it motivates me to try my best and challenge myself without the fear and space of being able to fail. I wish undergrad could have followed a similar model.

Yet, it is what it is and this chapter ends very soon indeed.

Best regards,

Santiago Montoya