05/31/2012 06:00 pm ET Updated Jul 31, 2012

Reflections on the End of Freshman Year

My college career is already 25 percent over. Wait, what?

I am obviously not the first person to take note of the whole "time flies" thing. This is the time of year for graduations and commencement addresses, so there's a whole lot of teary-eyed moms and nostalgic seniors reflecting on the passage of time. Reflection: not typically the forte of freshmen, right? Freshman year is a time to meet new friends and get your bearings -- the end of freshman year should probably feel like the last few pages of a big comic book crossover, like when Iron Man turns to the reader on the final page of Marvel's Civil War and says, "The best is yet to come."

That's how it felt in high school, at least. I don't know, college feels different, somehow. Maybe it's because 12 months ago I was a graduating high school senior, and so those feelings of reminiscence aren't far removed, but for whatever reason, it feels like time is slipping uncontrollably through my fingers. Having now spent one year at college, allow me to confirm all those great things you've heard about it. What an amazing experience. The people are astonishing, the learning opportunities countless, the scenery beautiful. The food sucks but hey, whatever, life is good. But as awesome as it is, the whole thing seems permeated with a feeling of mortality and limited time.

High school never felt like a battle against the clock because there was always four years of college hanging in the future, but the end of college resembles the cover of Shel Silverstein's Where The Sidewalk Ends, a precipitous drop-off into uncertainty. You know, recession and all that. Since we are all well aware of this drop off, everybody's scrambling to prepare for it, which means that I blinked and suddenly my friends had summer internships. Next year, many of my upperclassmen friends will be studying abroad. The year after that, I'll probably be doing something similar. At least a couple of quarters will be spent outside my campus. College is a lot shorter than I thought it was.

College is often viewed as a personification of youthful exuberance, but it's also tinged with a growing realization of adulthood. In the past year, I've grown as a person (living on my own for a first time, figuring out what to eat and when to do laundry, learning to interact with new friends completely different than anyone I encountered at a fairly homogenous high school) and as a student (so many books, theories and lessons get tossed around here, each with the depth to fill a month of high school class). I have every reason to believe that the next three years will be equally amazing, but I also know those three years are going to be a lot shorter than they sound. So even though reflection is typically what you do at the end of college or high school, it's also important to slate some time for it during that interval, so you can fully appreciate the great times you're having.