Whether you’ve just packed up your first-year dorm or you’re about to wear the honor of honors and toss your graduation cap into the air, saying goodbye is never easy. It’s even harder when you’ve just finished a soul-crushing final exam period and are sitting in your parents’ car on the drive home, emotionally drained and exhausted with no capacity to feel anything except relief that you’re finally done. How could you possibly summon the strength to say goodbye? It’s simple — listen to these songs that will make you regret all those times you wished the school year was over.
“Where We Go” by P!nk
This track of P!nk’s “Beautiful Trauma” album perfectly encompasses the mixed bag of fear, excitement and homesickness that overwhelms anyone right before they leave their comfort zone. “As we contemplate goodbye / I don’t know, we don’t know, where we go,” P!nk sings, two simple lines that repeat throughout the song, mirroring the feeling a graduate might have, knowing they have to leave but not yet knowing where they’re headed. Yet, there still exists a way back home. The lyrics “There’s a road that takes me home / Take me fast or take me slow” might as well be talking about Route 29 carrying students old and new to and from the University.
“The Last Time” by Taylor Swift feat. Gary Lightbody
There’s no denying that this song is intended to be a tragic love song, where two lovers are trying to make their romance work for the last time. But the song’s opening lyrics are what make it relevant to this scenario — “Find myself at your door / Just like all those times before / I’m not sure how I got there / All roads they led me here.” This coupled with the repetition of “This is the last time I’m asking you this” transform the heartbreak of this song from one of romance to one reminiscent of last first days, of doing something you do all the time for the very last time.
“Woke Up New” by The Mountain Goats
Told from the perspective of someone waking up in a new situation for the first time, The Mountain Goats capture that feeling you get when you wake up in your own room again on the first day of summer, no roommate beside you, no University outside your door. “On the morning when I woke up without you for the first time / I felt free and I felt lonely and I felt scared,” the band croons. “And I began to talk to myself almost immediately / Not being used to being the only person there.” Crying yet? If not, you will be by the time the chorus hits. “And I sang oh, what do I do? / What do I do? / What do I do? / What do I do without you?” Now go hug your roommate.
“Big Jet Plane” by Angus & Julia Stone
This is the song that should be playing when you’re saying goodbye to your out-of-state best friend at the airport. Enough said.
“Drops of Jupiter” by Train
This song goes out to your high school best friend, the one you drifted apart from when you went off to your respective colleges. As such, this song is the epitome of bittersweet goodbyes, balancing the feelings of grieving the past with enjoying the present and looking forward to the future. The line “And did you miss me while you were / looking for yourself out there?” is what makes this song relevant to the college experience, simultaneously covering nostalgia and self-transformation.
“Good Old Days” by Macklemore feat. Kesha
This song is the final step in turning into a post-grad wistfully looking back on their time as an undergraduate. This is the song that makes you realize that all of the old people who told you, “Slow down, you’re going to miss this!” were actually right all along. The chorus, sung by Kesha, is where this sentiment is loudest and proudest. “I wish somebody would have told me babe / Someday, these will be the good old days / All the love you won’t forget / And all these reckless nights you won’t regret.” Just imagine that playing as you’re about to walk the Lawn with your class for the last time. And then, she brings it home with “Someday soon, your whole life’s gonna change / You’ll miss the magic of these good old days.” Cue the waterworks.
“I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack
Relevant lyric: “I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean / Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens”
“Keep Your Eyes Open” by NEEDTOBREATHE
Relevant lyric: “‘Cause if you never leave home, never let go / You’ll never make it to the great unknown”
“Home” by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Relevant lyric: “Ah, home, let me go home / Home is wherever I’m with you”
“The Night We Met” by Lord Huron
Relevant lyric: “I’ve been searching for a trail to follow again / Take me back to the night we met”