Getting up early for an 8 a.m. class was nothing new for University of Colorado senior Andrew Riscoe but as he entered the tunnel under 28th Street on his way to campus Tuesday, something changed.
Riscoe had taken this same route to campus for the last few years but this time it was different.
“It hit me,” Riscoe said. “It was kind of how it normally is when you start a new semester but then I realized this is the last time I have to go to my first day of class.”
Tuesday was the last, first day of classes for thousands of CU seniors expecting to graduate in May.
Riscoe, a chemical engineering major, said he spent the day discussing his future with fellow seniors and even after his classes were over the nostalgic feelings lingered.
“I walked to the gym today and remember thinking how small everything looks now,” Riscoe said. “I’ve finally figured it out and I definitely didn’t have it figured out on my first first day.”
CU senior Isra Chaker said similar to her first day of kindergarten or even her first day of college, she didn’t forget to take a picture to remember the monumental day.
“I took a picture with four friends who are also seniors,” Chaker said. “We called it the end of the beginning photo.”
A “happy first day of school,” phone call from her sister added to the emotions Chaker said she was feeling as she got ready for her last, first day of classes at CU.
Chaker said she felt jittery all day, anxious about the future.
“Everyone hypes you up for college but no one knows how to hype you up for what’s after,” Chaker said.
Some seniors said their first day of spring classes was full of emotions and for Corey Wiggins, a political science and secondary education senior, it was excitement.
“It’s like the beginning of the final chapter, the moment I have spent the past three-and-a-half years working towards,” Wiggins said. “I have a feeling as the semester goes on, that feeling will change to a little more shock and anxiety about what is next but today it’s more a feeling of accomplishment.”
Wiggins said graduation has been lingering in his mind since he registered for his last semester of classes in the fall — a time that was full of panic and anxiety, rather than excitement.
Chaker said her realization happened during winter break, specifically on Jan. 11, exactly four months before graduation day.
“That’s when I really realized it,” Chaker said. “Four years has flown by so quick, so four months is nothing.”
Creative writing senior Alejandra Taylor said her first day of classes this spring was, in some ways, similar to her first day as a freshman at CU.
“It’s similar to my first day as a freshman in that I’m really optimistic about the semester, how my classes will go, and the experiences I’ll have,” Taylor said. “It’s different in that I feel like I know the ropes, know my place at CU, and feel prepared to handle everything that comes my way.”
And for seniors like Taylor and Riscoe, it’s not going to be an easy semester.
Riscoe said he is still finishing some of the classes for his major — including an early morning class that isn’t going to make it any easier.
Taylor said she’s feeling optimistic about her classes, but with 19 credits to finish for her degree, it’s going to be a tough semester.
The seniors had different feelings about graduating but all agreed that it would be bittersweet.
Riscoe said he sat in the engineering computer lab where he and his peers spent many late nights trying to stay awake finishing assignments.
“I was hanging out in there with some friends today and we were like, ‘Wow, we won’t have to stay in this hell hole for much longer,'” Riscoe said.
Riscoe said the lab where he struggled through the last three and a half years is also one of the things he will miss most about college.