20 Tips to Starting Your Senior Year in College Right

Sep 29, 2011

Students entering their senior year in college have a lot to worry about as they try to meet the rest of their degree requirements and prepare to continue on to graduate programs or enter the workforce. The Education Insider provides some tips that will help keep these students on track even when being tempted by senioritis.

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By Jessica Lyons

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1. Know Your Degree Requirements

Hopefully by the time you're starting your senior year you've already made sure you're on top of your degree requirements. To be on the safe side, meet with an academic advisor to verify any classes you still need to take and that you're able to get a space in any that may have limited openings. The last thing you want is to get squeezed out of a required class when you only have a couple semesters left to take it.

2. Think About Continuing Your Studies

You might not have taken the time yet to think about what you want to do once you earn your undergraduate degree. Instead of just assuming that you'll start working right away, put together a list of reasons why you might want to instead pursue a graduate degree. Depending on the job opportunities available in your field, getting another degree might be the right choice for you.

3. Visit the Career Center

If you're planning on entering the workforce right after college, you'll want to visit your school's career center early on to see what kind of assistance you can get. The staff there might be able to help you put together a resume and may give you a mock interview to help you prepare.

4. Complete Your Grad School Applications

Students who do decide to continue their studies will need to complete and send in their grad school applications. This can be a lot of work so it's important to double-check what information is needed and schedule plenty of time to get it all done.

5. Get Real World Experience

Your senior year could be your last chance to get some real world experience before you start pursuing full-time employment, so try to complete an internship or even get a part-time job related to your field of study. This will give you the opportunity to develop useful skills and get some much-needed experience to put on your resume that will make you look more appealing to potential employers.

6. Think About Employment Options

You could find it beneficial to put together a list of companies you might want to work for. This way you can start learning about them in advance and maybe even find out information about what it takes to get a job there. You can also start putting together the contact information you'll need to start using as it gets closer to graduation.

7. Check Your Student Loan Obligations

Even if you're going to have several months in between graduation and needing to start paying back your student loans, you should start looking into loan consolidation in advance and try to figure out what your monthly payments might be. This will be important information as you begin your post-college life and are planning your finances.

8. Make a List of Important Dates

There are many noteworthy dates that seniors have to worry about, like senior pictures, parties, cap and gown pick-up and, of course, graduation. Write all the dates down on a calendar or in your student planner so you won't forget anything.

9. Join Student Activities

Your senior year will also be your last chance to get involved in some of the on-campus activities that you've been interested in but kept putting off joining. If you can fit it into your schedule, go ahead and join them while you still have the chance so you don't miss out on the opportunity.

10. Mentor Other Students

Now that you're a senior and are probably close to being an expert on your school, consider mentoring other students, possibly incoming freshmen. You might find it extremely rewarding to share your knowledge with another student and help them succeed.

11. Join a Professional Organization

Many professional organizations offer student memberships so you might be able to join a professional organization related to your field. This could help you start to meet individuals already working in your area of study so you can network and begin making important connections. It could also connect you to additional educational development or possible job openings.

12. Study Abroad

Your senior year could be the ideal time to try studying abroad if you haven't done so already. Once you start working or attending grad school, it could be difficult to get an out-of-the-country trip in, so before you graduate you might want to visit a different country while still being able to earn credits toward your degree.

13. Attend Conferences or Workshops

Depending on your major, you might be able to find some conferences or workshops that can help you further develop your knowledge. In addition, these can also be good places to make important professional connections.

14. Get Your Hardest Classes Out of the Way First

If possible, try to take the more difficult classes you have left during the first semester of your senior year and save the easier options for your last semester. Senioritis can make it increasingly hard to focus on coursework during that final semester, so trying to make your class load even a little easier will be sure to pay off.

15. Start Saving

Whether you've already been saving a little or haven't started saving at all, you might want to start putting some money away. Money could be tight after you graduate and take an entry-level job, and it could get even tighter when you have to start paying back your loans. Having some money saved up can give you some backup funds if you end up needing them.

16. Visit Your Alumni Office

Before long you'll be changing your school status from 'student' to 'alum,' so it could be a good idea to touch base with your school's alumni office. Find out from them what benefits are offered to alumni and how to register your information to make sure you stay connected after graduation.

17. Talk to Your Professors

Your professors might be able to provide you with recommendations down the road or even give you leads to potential jobs. Prior to graduation, you should try to have a chat with some of the professors who know you the best to see if they would be willing to help you out and so you can find out the best way to keep in touch with them.

18. Get Your References in Order

You could need references for grad school or for potential jobs, and it's always good to have that information together in advance. Reach out to individuals who you think will be the best references to verify that they are fine with being your reference and are okay with you giving their contact information to others.

19. Keep on Top of Your Coursework

Although it could be easy to start to let your grades slide during your senior year, it's important to still get all of your coursework done and maintain your GPA. You certainly don't want to risk failing a class and not graduating all because you decided that, since it's your last year, your classes didn't need as much attention as they once did.

20. Have Fun

Even though there are a lot of serious decisions to make during your senior year and a lot of important things to take care of, you should still leave time to have some fun. You've worked hard to get to where you are and should be able to enjoy all of the festivities related to your upcoming graduation.

Still not sure if you want to continue your studies or go directly into the workforce? Check out some ways to decide if grad school is right for you.

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