Staying Focused During Senior Year

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Graduation cap lying in the grass with BJU shield on tassel

It seems like just yesterday I donned a teal freshman class T-shirt—a wide-eyed premed freshman excited and terrified at the prospect of college. Fast forward three years to the present. Now it’s my senior year, and I’m looking forward to enrolling into medical school in the fall. My time is mostly spent filling out applications and writing essays about why I would be a good fit for a certain program.

But in the midst of planning this next step, a crazy semester is going full steam ahead. I often find myself wondering when I’ll have time to study for that genetics test, much less make it to society outings. It is tempting to be withdrawn from campus life and focused on my future instead of enjoying these last few months with my close friends. Is it even worth staying engaged and involved as a senior? My view is that it is more important than ever to do so. Here’s why.

You can influence others.

I think of seniors who left an impression on me when I was a freshman—specifically my RA Janeen. It meant so much to me that she cared enough to take me to church with her when I wasn’t sure where to go. I remember the grace she gave when I didn’t deserve it and the truth she spoke to me when I most needed it. She was one of several people in my life who poured into me even when there was no benefit in helping an awkward freshman. Luke 12:48 says, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” We have been given so much by others, and we can either use our greater influence well or take it for granted.

You can help build community.

Being involved as a senior doesn’t necessarily mean being president of your society or an association. To me, it means investing in the people around you—the ones you encounter in your daily life. Dr. Pettit once told me that seniors “set the tone” of campus. So be intentional about what tone you set. This can be something as small as a word of encouragement you say in a brief moment that can make someone’s day or advice you give that may be taken more seriously than if it came from someone else. Find that person in your discipleship group or society or major who you know you can make a difference in their life.

You can start a lifelong habit of serving.

It’s easy to think of life as finally starting once we don our graduation caps and head out into the world. But don’t take this unique stage of life for granted. For many of us, this is the only time we will ever be surrounded by so many like-minded people our age. Learning to love these people that we live, work and learn with is ministry and preparation for a lifetime of serving others.

Closing Thoughts

Yes, in a few months we are done. It’s exciting—and a little scary. But I realize now that I’m going to miss this unique place and these people and the memories. So make the most of your senior year and make a difference now so that you’ll be ready to serve God in the future. As a certain faded teal shirt in my dresser says, “Own it.” Let’s own our senior year.


Emily-Rose Zhou

Emily-Rose Zhou is a senior premed/predent major and a member of BJU’s Student Leadership Council.