Nostalgia plays role for ‘lame-duck’ students

As we all know by now, there’s a presidential election taking place. Well, at least, I hope everyone reading this knows that. Regardless, the outcome of this presidential election will make President Barack Obama a “lame-duck” president come November. The phrase “lame-duck” implies that an elected official’s time in office is soon coming to an end and they have less influence than they did before.

Yet, for me “lame-duck” has taken on a personal meaning. Last week, the University mailed out its acceptance letters to the Class of 2020. There were several videos circulating on social media showing high school seniors learning that they were now part of the Trojan Family. Though I was excited for them, I couldn’t help but feel that they were going to fill the empty seat I was leaving come May 13 when I graduate with my fellow seniors. But let’s not get into that yet.

For now, I am officially a “lame-duck” college student. I know I have to leave, but I’m not yet ready to go. Is this how Obama feels?

I’ve been noticing that while there are dozens of reading materials to teach students how to make the transition from high school to college, there’s a shortage of self-help books to teach students how to survive that final month of college.

So I turned to some Trojans who’ve already made the transition to learn how a “lame-duck” college student still makes an imprint at USC.

For Frances Wang, a 2014 graduate, that last month was filled with a “whirlwind of emotions.”

“I’d see a person or place on campus and flashback to memories of that person or place,” Wang said. “I was kind of over a lot of things because I was a senior, but at the same time, I wanted to do everything one more time because I was a senior.”

Yet, social media carried her through the emotions. In her last month at USC there was no TimeHop, Snapchat geofilters or Periscope.

So Wang used social media by “looking through old photos, seeing other people’s Facebook statuses and reflecting with friends in person by getting together for lunch, dinner or drinks.”

She said there’s still not a day that goes by that she doesn’t think about college.

For Joshua Carroll, who graduated in 2015, he first realized his time at USC was up when he saw the walking tours of admitted students near Tommy Trojan. Yet, he soon realized that the last month of college is much different from the last month of high school.

“Back then, we were kind of all trekking along the same path,” Carroll said of his high school friends. “At the end of college, there’s a lot more uncertainty as we come to another crossroad in our life.”

Carroll, a native of Southern California, is now in graduate school at Columbia University. USC prepared him well for his rigorous Ivy League graduate program. One experience in particular stands out.

During his last few weeks at USC, Carroll opened a friendly reminder email from his professor that informed him he had a paper due in a few hours. After spending a few minutes complaining to Snapchat friends, Carroll whipped out the 8-page paper in a couple of hours. He ended up getting a B+ and saved it for the memories.

The four years of college are filled with curve balls like these. Yet, it seems like only in the end, will we start appreciating how resilient they have made us.

Sometimes being a lame duck in college means that you’re pushed to shift your sights to new horizons. Courtnie Henson graduated in 2015 after studying business and cinematic arts, and knew she wanted to move to New York. Henson is now working at Pandora in the Big Apple.

But she still misses how close she was to all of her friends in Los Angeles.

“USC made my family bigger,” Henson said.

The end of college is a reminder of how much you get to walk away with. As we seniors move through this final month of school, remember how much you’ve grown, the memories that have shaped you, the amazing Springfest concerts that have entertained you, the speakers that have challenged you and the friendships that have aided you during your time on campus.

All of these are experiences we can carry with us past May 13.

Plus, who knows what other amazing things we can pack into this next month? I guess we’ll just have to live and see. Challenge on, Class of 2016.

After reading “Wait An L.A. Minute” on Tuesdays, join Jordyn Holman in her millennial conversations on Twitter  at JordynJournals. She’s a senior studying print and digital journalism.