OPINION: Super Senior syndrome

Nicholas Hunter headshot

Nicholas Hunter

The phrase “Got 15?” defined my freshman year. The hokey wordplay was a reminder for all new students that, if you pass 15 credit hours each semester, you’ll graduate “on time” in four years.

While I’m sure the campaign ad was created with good intention, it haunted me. As someone only taking 12 credit hours, the big “Got 15?” graphic plastered on the front door of my dorm building taunted me, an ever-present reminder that I was lagging behind expectations.

Taking 12 credit hours was an intentional decision; I was reluctant to jump full-force into such a new environment.

I was also very conscious it was an immediate setback to my “Got 15?” plan. I knew I would need to either overload in later semesters, take summer courses or drag college out longer. None of those options sounded good.

Now, four years later, I’m still in college. An ancient being, sulking up and down the Esplanade, prattling on about the “good old days” when Tri-Towers still had laundry rooms on each floor, Summit Street construction was just a twinkle in Bev’s eye and Jump Asian Express was the only Asian food option on campus.

Each year along the way, my graduation date slowly migrated further and further down the calendar, until I finally accepted my fate as a fifth-year college student — days before my fifth year of college.

Going in, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel. I just came back from a semester in Washington, D.C. I lived life away from Kent for a while and, at the same time, many of the friends I made along the way graduated, found “big kid” jobs and scattered across the country.

I was happy to get the opportunity to run off to D.C. and do big things: work as a congressional reporter, become an assistant for a journalism podcast and meet countless amazing people all over the professional and social spheres of the city.

But now I was back, half my friends gone, readjusting to my old life that looked so different from when I left it.

I knew I’d be returning to school after the program, but I had no clue what the return would feel like. In my first few weeks back, I’ve been feeling the distinctions that come with an extra year of school.

“Super Senior” is a common phrase used to describe someone in my position. Unlike the many other “Supers” out there, this is not a term of endearment.

Impossible to say without a slathering of condescension, only “Supers” themselves get to say it. Everyone else is relegated to the revered “fifth-year” descriptor, or the most polite will simply call you a senior.

While I despised the term at first, I’ve come to wear it as a certain badge of honor. I defied the norms, broke the mold, took my time. Being a “Super Senior” doesn’t mean I’ve been slacking or failed a bunch of classes and had to scratch and claw to stay afloat — it just means I’m a trailblazer.

Nicholas Hunter is the opinion editor. Contact him at [email protected].