OPINION: Reflecting on registration

By Erin McKibbin | November 21, 2023 1:00pm

Photo courtesy of Erin McKibbin.

Yesterday, while I was sitting in the library, a text alert woke up the tired screen of my phone, accompanied by a buzz: “i can’t believe we register for the last time ever tomorrow,” it read. “that’s crazy.” It made me pause.

With winter break around the corner and classes ramping up in difficulty, it’s barely sunk in that this upcoming spring will be the last batch of classes I sign up for. Post-grad life is something I have been shoving away to the back of my mind, determined for it to be a problem for me in the future. Besides, registration is not something I’m usually looking forward to at all — it usually ends with me having three tabs open, scrambling to find my PIN and praying my competition is slower than me and that I get spots in the classes I want. If anything, I dread it.

Like many members of this year's senior class, the beginning of my college experience was anything but typical: I moved on to campus in January instead of August after COVID concerns decreased. And my new home was a double in Mehling, which I had all to myself. Throughout that first semester, we all struggled to overcome the isolation we felt on campus. My greatest bond to others was the fact that, at the very least, we were all searching for the same things and going through it all together. I watched as peers turned to social media, socially-distanced walks, and card game nights in dorm hallways for connection. My one in-person class that year became a special event each time I attended it, something to look forward to where I could sit in a classroom and see my friends in front of me as opposed to on a screen.

More than anything else, a dullness settled in me, heavy and inescapable, at the notion that this was all college would be for me: picking up to-go containers of pasta in the Commons and putting on my best outfits for an introduction to political theory class.

Thankfully, UP began to come back to life after the 2020 school year. I watched us all open up as the rest of the world did. To me, it was the fact that we were all starving for relationships that allowed us to form such a tightly-knit community. I joined ASUP, among other clubs, and being a part of a group of student leaders from every corner of the school made it feel smaller, more like a family.

Despite that, the truth is that my experience at the University of Portland has not been perfect. I have spent nights wondering if I am enough and nights convinced I am not.

I have lost lovers and friends, found the latter hurts much worse, and, sometimes, we have found our way back to each other with time and age.

I have been both wrong and right when it counted most, though the most successful arguments I won were always in my head.

I have felt much older than my 21 years and, at times, acted much younger.

I have fallen down and gotten up and fallen down and gotten up more times than I can count.

More often than any of that, though, I have found myself overwhelmed with gratitude at this place where I can do all of those things and still find that I am met with open arms. So much of my experience in undergrad has taken me by surprise. Over the last (almost!) four years, I’ve gotten to go to a lot of places — I’ve flown to Georgia, driven to California and taken train rides home to Washington, among others. But all that time, I was realizing there was also a place I belonged in Portland, and I missed it while I was home on breaks or out in the world.

Tonight, while I register for the last classes I will ever take at this school, I’m allowing it to feel like a big deal. Because it is, in equal parts, a celebration and the beginning of a goodbye that I’m starting to dread. So I’m giving you permission to think of it as a big deal as well, whether you’ve survived seven semesters or just one. In that spirit, from me to you: happy registration week.

Erin McKibbin is a senior at the University of Portland. She can be reached at mckibbin24@up.edu

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