About a year-and-a-half ago, I was speaking to one of my good colleagues at a performance one night. I shared with him how I was struggling with what exactly I wanted to do with my life after I graduated. And he gave me some of the best advice I've ever been given. He said that what was important was where you're going to be and what you're going to do for a certain number of years instead of for the rest of your life. He gave some of his perspective by exemplifying what he was considering for the next, say, five years, teaching in a school.
The same goes for study periods or semester schedules and so forth. The lesson is that focusing on a certain amount of time instead of the rest of the time you have in your life is less overwhelming. Indeed, it can be overwhelming, but it's a step-by-step process.
Think of it this way, to use a commercial I saw last fall, as an example. The slogan for Verizon was, at one time, "It's not back to school. It's forward to what's next." It's amazing how little things and comments in commercials can be encouraging. But, besides the point, having the perspective of a step-by-step process and not a series of end points and beginning points (to define "commencement") can help in terms of where you go in the next area in life. I told myself the same thing when I graduated recently--not as the end of one thing and the start of another, but rather the continuation of a journey, a story, even though it is a new chapter.