Tonight is my abstract algebra final. I have a take-home part to turn in, and then the final itself is supposed to take about an hour, though we have two hours for it. I'm not as ultra-prepared as I have been for some other tests, but I think I am prepared enough. The take-home part was difficult but I think I'll have close to full credit on it, and I only need a high D or low C on the final in order to have an A in the course.
This is not just a final exam, it is the final exam. Barring the unforeseen, this will be my last act as an undergraduate. My other classes are finished. Sunday is the graduation ceremony, which I am not attending, but after which I will consider myself to have graduated.
Taking my last exam would feel stranger, of course, were I not starting grad school in the Fall. It will be different from this, but will still feature math, homework, exams, and all of that. Leaving my job in a couple of months is going to be weirder than graduating, I think.
I was thinking about my family earlier, the two sides. On my mother's side of the family, everyone goes to college. My grandfather, mother, aunt, and two cousins (which is everyone I know from my side of the family) all have degrees (did my grandmother? I wonder), and my aunt and cousins either have or are working on graduate degrees of some stripe.
College seems more rare on my father's side of my family. My grandfather went to college and seminary, but my grandmother didn't go to college. Of their four children, I believe only one of my aunts has a degree. My father took some college courses but did not graduate. Two of my three cousins started or are about to start college; probably the older has graduated by now (assuming she did graduate).
I have mixed feelings about graduating. It's not really much of an accomplishment for an intelligent person with a middle-class background. You expect it. I had a perfect opportunity to go to my dream school right out of high school, basically for free, and the only reason I didn't get my degree there was that I wasn't mature enough to actually go to classes, do work, study, and so on.
At the same time, it has taken me a number of years to get this degree while working, and I did, over all that time, develop a work ethic (at least towards school), learn how to tackle difficult material, and gain various academic skills, such that I am, these days, a good student. So I do feel a certain sense of accomplishment in finishing something that was initially hard for me. And it was certainly enjoyable as well.
Anyway, tonight is it - the end of my undergraduate career.