You’re a wide-eyed freshman, sitting in the first introductory class that pertains to your major. The professor prattles off information about your future career, including classes you’ll eventually take as an upperclassman. The professor then comments about the upperclassmen and their work ethic. To you, they seem so determined, focused and passionate about their field of study.

In reality, the transition from underclassman to junior is more like a system shock. When you’re a freshman taking your general education courses, it feels like “upperclassman status” is lightyears away. But alas, Ferris Bueller was right all along: Life does indeed move pretty fast.

Suddenly, you’re waltzing into your first class as a junior and get slapped in the face by more challenging courses, fieldwork opportunities and a mandatory business casual dress code! The jump from sweatpants and Intro to Philosophy to all this is a little overwhelming to say the least.

I recently entered my third year as an occupational therapy student. As a freshman year OT major, you hear terrifying things about junior year. You’re told that your courses are near impossible, getting clearances for fieldwork is a nightmare and all your classes start at 8 a.m. sharp. I would be lying if I said I didn’t spend some nights staring up at my ceiling, thinking about the work this year would entail. Then one day I found myself shuffling to class, khakis and goniometer in tow, wondering, “When did I get so old?”

I was sitting in my Clinical Neuroscience lecture when it hit me: I’m actually going to be an occupational therapist and treat real people one day. It was like a reality check. For my first two years of college, the idea of becoming a therapist seemed like a far off fantasy.  It was something I was working toward, but didn’t really know much about. Now I’m sitting in a class discussing neural pathways and starting field work in a semester.

As scary as becoming an upperclassman seems, it definitely should be viewed in a positive light. I’m trying not to think of this year as a threat, but rather an exciting period. After all, I am one more step closer to living my dream as an occupational therapist. As much work as it seems now, it will be certainly be worth it once I’m out in the real world treating clients.