CSUN expectations versus reality of a college senior year

The fourth and final year of high school was spent chatting with friends in the cafeteria, talking about future plans of schools and dreams of starting a career after college graduation.

Ozzie Saldivar is now a CSUN graduate student working on his Master’s in social work after earning his Bachelor’s Degree on the same campus. But his mentality now is far different than how it was when he first stepped foot on campus as a freshman straight out of high school.

“My reality was that [college] wasn’t high school anymore,” Saldivar said. “It was more of a new challenge and new journey in regards to more responsibilities and the likelihood of making it and not being part of a statistic of being caught up with a nine-to-five job.”

Though Saldivar didn’t want to correlate his college experience with that of the high school experience, other students do. Once the high school graduation caps are tossed, freshman college students look forward to a second senior year, but more of an adult feeling.

The American-coined staple of “senior year” is a term used to describe students in their fourth year of studies, generally tied to a high school or college.

Yet at CSUN, the four-to-six year plan has eluded the feeling of a senior year. According to College Navigator, CSUN’s average six-year graduation rate is between 41 and 48 percent.

With the college graduation rate increasing to a four-to-six-year plan, the time spent on college grounds is not like other campuses like UCLA or USC.

At CSUN particularly, the senior year has expanded over, the years based on the student’s major and time spent on campus.

Students said there are plenty of ways to get involved on campus that will enhance the CSUN experience and make a memorable senior year.

“It’s not all hyped up as it is,” Yvonne Nguyen, a third year computer information technology major, said. “I guess [it’s] because I never joined a sorority or anything of that nature. People who tend to go into sororities probably expect a more active college life.”

Nguyen didn’t have any expectations on what college would be like. Nguyen’s college experience is made up of going to class, studying, meeting classmates and going to work.

But not everyone’s college experience is the same. Films often paint a picture of what that experience is and this college fantasy in films isn’t what was expected for music education sophomore Roberto Muz said.

“I watch too much TV,” Muz said. “I’ve seen these jocks and those frat boys pick on the nerds. I always thought people were gonna be mean here.”

Muz said his experience on campus is the complete opposite. He said he was afraid to interact with new people at first.

“If you branch out and you talk to as many people as you can, you never know what you’re going to learn from that person,” Muz said. “You never know what they can teach you about yourself.”

Many students said the expectation versus the reality of college is that students either get involved on campus or float around in classes until graduation.

CSUN psychology junior Samantha Marron said she is not as involved on campus due to her busy schedule of school and work.

“You’re here for four years or five years and then you’re out,” Marron said.

Though students may feel like they are missing out on the feeling of being a senior or even “senioritis,” the extra years in school can spark an interest in being active on campus. Maybe, then, when the time comes to graduate, they will fully experience the senior year.