As UB seniors finish the last months of their college careers, a wealth of concerns come with the package of their caps and gowns.
The months before graduation become a time for some crucial decision-making, and many students stress over the unknown. Finding a job after graduation isn't promised, and considering where to attend graduate school, where to live, and how the bills are going to be paid are only a few of college seniors' worries.
Stress is something that has become extremely familiar to Katherine Kurtz, a senior philosophy major, who doesn't consider herself a skilled decision-maker.
"A lot of my fellow seniors really look forward to graduation and ‘can't wait to get the [expletive] out of here,' but I wish I had some more time left here," Kurtz said. "It's [as if] the time to leave Buffalo is when Buffalo really feels like home."
However, Kurtz is sticking to the positives. While she isn't looking forward to leaving Buffalo behind and packing up all her belongings, she is taking priceless memories and intimate connections along with her.
"I'm also trying not to focus so much on the stress…because if I do, I will miss the opportunity to enjoy the little time I have left," Kurtz said.
Amanda Gralto, a senior mathematics major with an education minor, started off her freshman year with completely different plans than those she has for herself now.
Initially, she dabbled in engineering, figuring she was good at science and math and was also interested in issues concerning the environment. However, like many things in life, it was easier said than done.
"It was very hard for me, and I never really enjoyed the classes I was taking. Halfway through my sophomore year, I decided to change my major because I hated it so much," Gralto said.
Gralto now plans on becoming a middle or high school math teacher in California. She said she always wanted to become a teacher when she was younger, and that it is something she knows she will be happy doing.
While Gralto seems to know exactly what she wants to do, she does fear for the future because teaching jobs are so scarce.
One thing that is difficult for graduating seniors is not only parting ways with UB, but also with the friends they've made along the way.
"Being with them for four years and knowing it'll soon be over is really hard to deal with," Gralto said.
Gralto was also concerned about whether or not she would be able to attend the graduate school of her choice, but the weight was lifted off her shoulders as soon as she found out she was accepted into UB's mathematics education program.
Many other seniors are also concerned about graduate school admission.
"I was accepted at my two top choices, [NYU and U Miami] but unfortunately, the financial aid really just isn't there," said Elizabeth Sherman, a senior communication, French, and psychology major in an email. "I'm stuck in the position where I worked really hard for four years and I can't pay for my ‘reward.' So basically, I'm torn between taking out a ton of loans to try to get through school, or working."
Sherman, who originally started off as only a communication major, took advantage of the flat-rate tuition fee and found out it made the most sense for her to take the additional classes.
Sherman has studied French since middle school, and during her time at UB, she studied abroad for a semester in Montpellier, France, which she said was the best experience she's had in college.
"The most important thing to me is to make sure I travel and continue my education by meeting people and discussing the different parts of their life with them," Sherman said.
She plans on returning to France this summer for a program in Paris where she will teach beginning French and serve as a pseudo-tour guide.
"It's free admission to all the major landmarks and attractions, and it's a summer in Paris. How bad could it be, really?" she said in an email.
Hannah Whistler, a senior English major, didn't begin her journey at UB, but that is where it will come to an end for now. Originally a student at Loyola University in Chicago, Whistler made her way back home to UB due to financial reasons, but she hasn't been disappointed.
Whistler hopes to pursue a career in sketch comedy or sitcom writing and will start off her job search this summer after she moves to New York City.
"I am nervous about looking for jobs. I often envied my friends in nursing because the name of their degree matches their future career," Whistler said. "Being an English major is often overwhelming because there are so many avenues to pursue after school. My plan is to take more creative courses, most likely with comedy groups in the city, while working whatever job I can find to pay rent in the meantime."
Students' post-graduation plans can change with time, and many students struggle with uncertainty. Joshua Albanese, a senior psychology major, knows the feeling all too well.
"I am not someone who knew what they wanted to do their whole life. My future remains somewhat of a mystery for me for now, but accomplishing school was my first major goal," Albanese said.
Though Albanese doesn't know exactly what he wants to do, he is keeping his options open. He intends to take a police exam and a course that will certify him as a personal trainer upon graduation.
He will also be taking a break after graduating college and will be visiting Israel in June and Italy in September.
"Of course, graduate school will be my next step in fulfilling one of my life goals of having a successful career, but I think, unlike some students who attend grad school right away, I need a short vacation from studying, notes, exams, and due dates," Albanese said.
Albanese's biggest concern is graduating with a strong GPA and acquiring many networks that will help him in the long run.
Albanese is just one of many college seniors who still isn't sure of what his life will hold after graduation, and UB Career Services offers programs to ease the pressure and make the transition a little smoother for such students.
"As students prepare for graduation and life after UB, we are committed to providing support and skill-building to ensure that their transition is successful," said Arlene Kaukus, the director of Career Services, in an email.
Each year, Career Services offers "Senior Weeks," which host many programs and events that seniors are encouraged to attend.
On April 26, students can have their resumes critiqued by Career Counselors and will also be given an opportunity to try out a new service called Interviewstream. This service allows students to improve upon their interviewing skills.
"UB Career Services recognizes that seniors are embarking on new and exciting experiences as they prepare for graduation. We are committed to helping them feel prepared and ready to succeed," Kaukus said in an email.
Seniors concerned about what comes next can stop by Career Services on April 27. There will be a special networking session for seniors as well as a panel discussion of recent graduates who will talk about what to expect after graduation.