Seniors in college go through a lot of emotions. At Antioch University Santa Barbara, capstone adds another layer of stress to post-graduate depression.
Think back to your first day of Educational Foundations. What were the emotions you felt coming into a new school? Your teacher explained to you Antioch’s core principles, the way classes are here, the active participation, and the emphasis on social justice. When teachers speak of your final quarters it seems like a distant future. You may hear a comment or two about some service learning class or some comment about a senior presentation called capstones. Well here’s the thing, it’s not so distant. I remember sitting in one of my classes on the first day and hearing someone say this was their 6th quarter. I thought to myself, “That’s crazy that someone’s been here for 6 quarters!” Well now sitting here in my 6th quarter I guess it’s not so crazy. It goes by like a torpedo through the water, every ripple another class finished just as quickly as it started. Oh, and that little thing called capstone they mentioned isn’t so little.
The air was brisk and cold you could hear the birds chirping along with the sound of my boots on the tile, as I walked into the first day of capstones. The second I entered the room I felt a cloud of emotions from the class. It was a strong feeling of anxiety excitement, and fear. None of us really knew what to expect. It was the first day of Capstone class. During educational foundations the school has all students answer a series of questions on video about what we expected from our education, where we were in our lives, and our future goals. On the first day of capstone we are given back this video. We are told to watch it and write a senior paper comparing then and now. I will save you the time of not having you watch my video, but lets just say I was not in my right mind while petting my cats crying. Despite that my content was strong. I easily wrote a short paper on how I have changed and how Antioch’s core purposes have helped me. By week two I quickly found out that capstones was a lot more of a project than I had thought. We had a layout of our paper due and a one on one teacher meeting by week three. There is a period of time between week four and five I kind of thought about writing and found my sources and thought I had it down. Week seven we met with the teacher again and this time with our rough draft. Week seven changed everything for me. Felt a fire under me to get this paper done. Finally week eight the paper was turned in and it was time to think about our presentation. Week nine the PowerPoint is due and we practiced. Then finally week ten we presented and it was over.
There are so many changes and emotions every single one of us went through. It is a different experience for every one of us. Here are a few examples of how we all felt week one verses week eight.
I came in week one really excited to graduate. I had a plan! I planned on getting done with my last quarter, continuing to my Masters at Antioch. Eventually, I would join the PsyD program and start a job in the forensic psychology field. I knew what my capstone was going to be about (Victim Blaming) and I was ready to take on this quarter and blow through it like breath through a candle flame. Well I had an immediate little bump in the road. I had made my idea to broad and needed to narrow it down. I was a little pissed at first and realized that this was a good thing and I could make my paper way better by narrowing in. My topic changed to Victim Blaming in Sexual Assault. Fine I was ready. No small little curve ball from a Nerf gun was going to throw me off. I turned in my outline and felt awesome! Then, it was time to do my work. I must have sat at my laptop just staring at a blank word document, like I was binge-watching Friends. All the words in my brain fell completely out of my head and I had no idea where to start! It was such a frustrating feeling. So, naturally I did what every other college student does, I pretended like I didn’t have a giant paper due in a few weeks. I procrastinated!
I blinked maybe twice and it was week seven and I had to meet with the professor and show her my rough draft. Unfortunately it was really rough, so rough it was just a title floating on a blank document. I quickly got to work and it quickly came out of me as quickly as steam comes out of a teapot. I was on a roll! I got 4 pages done and was able to show I was on the right track! I got my paper done that same week and was really proud of it. I met with the career counselor and came to the realization that maybe I could job shadow or intern between my B.A. and M.A. This was awesome. I was already in a great place! I was looking around seeing people be stressed about graduation and I was amazed anyone could be worried. Well, I was wrong. I got really anxious at the end of week seven and through week ten. So I was nervous when there was nothing left to do. I finished and presented my capstone paper (presentation was not very nerve-wracking) and felt really positive about it. I met with more people the last two weeks to look at job shadowing and realized I might not be on the right track. Have you ever watched a hot air balloon lose air and just deflate as it fell to the ground in the longest fall possible? Yeah, that was basically how I felt. I knew what I had just finished, what I wanted to do, but the part in between is what freaking me out. Post-graduate depression is real and needs to be talked about! It doesn’t only happen when you are done. It can happen during the last few weeks, and I believe a little bit of it struck me! I still don’t know if I’m on the right track, but I know I’m on the track I am supposed to be right now.
This won’t be your experience, for everyone is different. If this helps at all to know that you are not alone. If this is week one of capstone and you are freaking out or if your reading this week nine freaked out, it will be okay and you can do this. It is not the end of anything; it is the beginning of your life. There are many ways to help remove post-graduate depression. However, if I can offer and pieces of advice here they are. It is okay to not know! If you don’t know what to write about, you don’t know your plan after this, or you don’t know how to handle the stress, it will be okay! Take time for yourself! Talk to other people in your class! Communicate with your professor! Don’t give up! It’s Okay to have writers block. Have faith in yourself! Most importantly have fun! It is easy to lose your mind. Enjoy your last quarter, because it goes by fast! Good luck!