A college graduation is most commonly associated as a “bittersweet moment.” It’s the conclusion of four years of growth in a massive petri-dish that overhauls the adolescent mind. What one is left with as always depends largely on who you are and where you went. One thing is certain, the moment you walk across that stage and settle back into the upholstery of whatever car is driving you away, everything has changed.
Upon my recent graduation, and in the weeks leading up to it, I noticed how present my state of mind became. I was drawn out of my head and into the mundane transitions of which I normally float through disengaged. I found myself fixated on stupid things like the countless bumps and cracks that plague the blacktop streets of Champaign-Urbana, or how the cement runs in-between each red brick of the newly renovated Lincoln Hall (not the venue, mind you). On my bike, I’d shoot down Third Street in a daze, engulfed in the noise-cancelled bubble of my headphones as I ogled the awkward heights of a balcony for a building I must’ve passed four hundred times.
As I loaded the last of my things into my rented U-Haul, truck I could only recognize these experiences as directly related to the nostalgia my peers and I had been undergoing. It was the topic on all drunk tongues: fond chronicles of four years that seemed at once a lifetime and an instant flash. These strolls in time were then peppered with lackluster inquiries about who was doing what, where, and with whom. What I really noted was how much of a psychedelic undertone it all took; the kind of real life event that casts your past actions in front of you and demands introspection.
Final lesson: Graduation is a reality check, though not necessarily a depressing one.
It was in this reflective spirit that I decided to round up 15 songs that nestled themselves into the events of my college experience. But rather than being too personal, I chose a collection that could also warrant some accessibility on a macro level. So, whether you just graduated like me, or it’s been awhile, hopefully this list will act as a sort of GPS down memory lane. If not, I’m sure it’ll elicit some dancing.