The senior class recently attended the annual 200 Days Party. For most of us, this senior-only, semi-formal celebration kicks off the countdown to graduation and prefaces the 100 Days Party held later in the spring term. However, for many attendees, including myself, the countdown aspect of the party is not at all relevant. That’s because many of us are not actually seniors but instead senior “Febs.”
At Middlebury, Febs are students who will graduate in February rather than May. Several students become Febs after taking semesters off for work or personal reasons. The majority, however, began their first semesters in February rather than September, having taken the fall term off to pursue a gap semester, or “Febmester.” As a current senior Feb, I will still spend a full four years at the College, and in no way am I expected to condense or expedite my college career to graduate “on time” in the spring with the rest of my class. When my classmates finally don their caps and gowns in May, my fellow senior Febs and I will still have one final semester and winter term to complete before graduating. And we get to finish our college careers in style, receiving our diplomas after skiing down the Middlebury Snow Bowl in our caps and gowns!
The February-to-February timeline is undoubtedly unusual but also incredibly rewarding. My Febmester gave me plenty of time to step off my high school academic treadmill and breathe. Everyone curates their Febmester to their own interests and gains a ton of new stories to share for when they finally come to campus. One of my friends pursued a sea turtle conservation project in Costa Rica; another moved to Los Angeles to audition for television and movie roles. I used my time off to work, travel the world and visit friends at different colleges. Although we chose to use our Febmesters differently, my friends and I agree that our gap semesters gave us ample time to recharge and experience something totally new before beginning college.
Graduating in February rather than May carries its own advantages, as well. For one, it allows us Febs to combat the dreaded “What are you doing after graduation?” question with a short, sweet and self-assured “I’m a Feb.” While many of my non-Feb peers are busy with job interviews and graduate school applications, my Feb friends are figuring out how they want to spend their extra summer break. I am using mine to pursue another internship, something many of my graduating friends wish they still had the opportunity to do.
The best perk of being a Feb is perhaps the most under-recognized: As a Feb, I will have spent only one semester as a first-year but three as a senior. For me and the rest of the class of 2017.5, this means another semester to take interesting upper-level classes and more time to plan and coordinate post-graduate opportunities. It also means we get to attend to another 200 Days Party, this time as “super senior Febs” alongside a new senior class. The countdown of the party will continue to mean nothing to us, but we will still get to enjoy the free food, drink and music. No complaints from us, as February Admissions continues to showcase its advantages, even years after arriving to campus in February!