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How College Seniors Can Prepare for Life After Graduation

Posted on: October 27th, 2016

Welcome Week has come and gone and you’re tired of playing “summer catch-up” with your classmates when it finally hits you – you’re already halfway through the first semester of your SENIOR YEAR of college! Time has absolutely flown by and although you shouldn’t have a panic attack, it’s important to recognize that this year is different from years past.

College seniors will no longer have summer break to look forward to, because that is now replaced with entering what we like to call the “Real World.” Making sure you are as well prepared as possible can save you a lot of time, a lot of stress, and will help you out financially as well.

It sounds scary, I know. But it’s nothing that a little preparation, tweak in your mindset, and taking advantage of on campus resources can’t fix.

Other than the obvious steps like applying to jobs and attending job fairs, here are a few other ways that college seniors can help ease the transition between college life and life in the real world:

Change Your Mindset and Focus on the Bigger Picture

Your senior year of college is unlike any other year in your educational career. There’s no more “next year” (unless you’re going to grad school) and the goal now shifts to finding a good job after college. Realize early on that looking for a job during your senior is a great opportunity, whereas searching for a job after you have graduated can quickly become a stressful nightmare.

The “Senior Slide” can become very contagious and infectious (I know from experience). But I will promise you one thing: That occasional “I don’t feel like doing this” feeling will never go away, no matter how much you end up loving your job. So change your mindset, power through those moments, and avoid this slide at any cost. This will only help you in the future because as much as you might like to think it will, life doesn’t get “easier” after college.

Make Sure You’re on Track to Graduate

I’ve heard so many stories of seniors who end up needing to take an additional summer class in order to graduate with their degree. Many companies require proof of transcripts or education checks and the last thing that you want is for them to pull an offer because you haven’t received your degree yet. Four years of classes, requirements, and credits is a lot to keep track of. Check in with your advisor as soon as you can, and if there is an additional class you overlooked be sure to sign up for it next semester. In some cases, the academic calendar doesn’t play nice and might not offer the specific course during the semester you need it. If this happens, talk with your advisor about possible alternative courses, online courses offered through a different branch of the university, or an approved independent study that can count toward your requirements – you’d be surprised by how willing they can be to help you.

Schools also require seniors to fill out an application for graduation. Pay attention to these deadlines, as any hiccups in the graduation process can cause some serious stress and setbacks.

Schedule an Appointment in Career Services ASAP

Roughly half of college students don’t take advantage of the Career Services office on their respective college campuses. If you haven’t done so yet, that’s okay, but it’s better late than never. Career Services has a lot to offer their students. Free resume advice, job search resources, interview tips, insider information on upcoming networking events, job fairs, etc. can do nothing but increase your chances of landing that first job out of college.

Also, many companies have ties to universities through ownership or executive leadership. Contacting their Alma Mater to look for candidates may be the first step these companies take when looking for new hires.

Develop a Skill

When you need an extra elective to graduate, that Yoga class offered on Tuesday and Thursday mornings looks like a relaxing way to add another “A” to your transcript. This class would be good for stress relief, and yes, most likely be an easy “A,” but it doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of helping you find a job. Instead, choose an elective that you can bring with you in your job search. For instance, taking intro courses related to coding, graphic design, Public Relations, etc. is something that can help you in your first job out of college.

The longer you are in the workforce, the more you will realize that having the ability to do things outside of your job description is going to help your career growth. Maybe your company is redoing their website and logo, or maybe they want to create a brochure for customers or write up press releases. Having at least some experience and training in these types of skills can allow you to take on exciting projects while catching the attention of upper management at the same time.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

It’s your senior year, you’re the big dog on campus, and you know the ins and outs of college life by having three years to get used to it. Next year you will basically be a freshman again, but this time, you’re in the beginning stages of your career and will be forced out of your comfort zone. Don’t forget to do this as often as possible during your senior year. Try new things, meet people who may challenge you, accept new responsibilities in on-campus organizations – get uncomfortable! These experiences will help you learn about yourself and will only help you once you’re thrown into the real world and expected to make life work in your own way.

ENJOY and Socialize!

Last but not least, remember that this is your senior year of college, so enjoy it! College is a once in a lifetime, unique opportunity in which you have the independence of an adult, but aren’t in full “adult mode” quite yet.  Join (or start) new clubs, go to campus events, meet new people, whatever it is that brings you joy, do that. Senior year comes and goes way too fast so enjoy it while you still have the chance!

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