No trumpets sounded when I submitted the very last assignment for the very last course of my AU degree program. Silence again when the final marks were posted for the course and my AU transcript preview dropped its last “In Progress” notation.
Finishing the requirements for my degree should fill me with elation. So why do I feel so very “meh?”
Perhaps I over-planned the finish. I arranged my course schedule so it would conclude with an exam-free course. After juggling four courses all winter, I wrote the final exams for three of them in February and March. That left me all of April to finish my sole remaining course, the exam-free ENGL 384.
By the beginning of April, I’d already completed the course work and had only three assignments to complete. No studying for an exam, no pressure. I created self-imposed deadlines for getting the assignments done. Then I finished them and that was that. No pressure, no trumpets.
In retrospect, I think I’d have relished the finish more if I’d scheduled an exam to be the very last task for my program. An exam is an event in a way an assignment is not. There’s a firm date, weeks of intense study, then a palpable feeling of relief when it’s over. It’s like the drama of sliding into home-plate—as opposed to walking on a bunt.
Ending with an assignment lacked any of that exam intensity and consequently lacked the euphoric relief of having finished. I had until April 30 to submit my final assignment but could send it in on any day. I had set myself a target date with a comfortable cushion; in the end I sent my final assignment in early.
On a day just like any other day, I found myself finished. One minute I was working on a course and the next minute I wasn’t. Of course, I would still have to wait for my assignment to be marked. Then, I would really be finished. A few days later, I had my final mark for the course, but there were still no trumpets, no real sense of an ending.
Maybe it’s the weather—snow was falling regularly here up until last week—or the lingering effects of a cold virus I picked up earlier in the month. But I wonder if my quest to reduce stress for my last month of study robbed me of that fist-pumping moment of elation. Perhaps it would have been better to spend the last few weeks of my AU career cramming for an exam. Then, after a three-hour stress-filled exam session, I could ceremoniously click on the Submit button for the final time.
Surely then, the trumpets would sound.