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Senior Year of College: Make the Most of It!

If you’re a senior in college, you’ve probably got a lot of questions floating around in your head. Will you land a job by the time you graduate? Are you on track to complete all your required credit hours? And how in the world did college go by so quickly? With so much to do and so little time, it’s tough to know how to make the most of your senior year. 

But when it comes down to it, this year is about setting yourself up for post-grad success while also enjoying your last couple semesters as a college student. Striking a balance between the two is key, but not exactly the easiest thing to do. That’s why we’ve put together a list of tips to help you achieve the best of both worlds as you navigate your senior year. 

Tips for planning ahead

Your senior year is the time to get all your ducks in a row before stepping out into the “real world”. By planning ahead, you can set yourself up to hit the ground running once you graduate. Here’s a few tips on how to prepare for the next chapter of your life while you’re still in college: 

1. Get your resume reviewed

Chances are that you’ll be searching for jobs during your senior year. As such, you’ll want to make sure your resume is in tip-top shape. If you haven’t paid a visit to your school’s career services center yet, now’s the time to go! They’ll make sure your resume is well-structured, aesthetically pleasing, and free of spelling and grammatical errors. 

2. Do mock interviews

Another great service that most career centers offer is mock interviewing. If you’ve landed an interview for a job or post-graduate internship, consider scheduling a mock interview to help you prepare for the real thing. These are especially useful if it’s been a while since your last interview and you feel rusty. They say practice makes perfect, which is especially true when it comes to interviewing.   

3. Create a website or portfolio

The job market can be super competitive, but one way to help yourself stand out is to have a personal website or portfolio. Employers want to view the work you’ve done and get a sense of what you’re capable of producing. Websites such as Wix, Weebly, and SquareSpace are among the best portfolio builder sites. Of course, you may not need a website or portfolio depending on the field of work you’re pursuing. However, it helps to have a portfolio of work in many communications-related fields such as film, design, and writing. 

4. Work your connections

One of the best things you can do during your job search is to network with your school’s alumni. Sometimes getting a job isn’t so much about what you know as it is about who you know. That’s why it can be very helpful  to establish connections with working professionals in your desired field. Use LinkedIn to reach out to alumni in your field and ask them for post-graduate advice. They’ve been in your shoes before, so hopefully they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. Another option is to seek advice from your professors, academic advisors, and mentors. They may be able to help you navigate your job search and give you some helpful suggestions.  

5. Consider grad school 

If grad school is already in your plans, that’s great! But if you’re unsure about what you want to do after graduation, you may want to think about pursuing a master’s or doctorate degree. While going to school even longer may be the last thing you want to do, getting an advanced degree is an excellent way to boost your career prospects, increase your earning potential, or transition into a different field. And you don’t have to launch straight into a graduate program, either. Taking a gap year or two is very common. 

Related: Grad school financing options

Tips for enjoying the moment in your senior year of college

Your last year of college is prime time to make plans for your career and post-graduate life. But when you really think about it, you have the rest of your life to figure that stuff out. Your senior year is a brief moment in time and will be gone before you know it. So don’t let it pass you by without enjoying it as much as possible. Here are a few tips on how to stay present during your senior year: 

1. Spend time with friends

College is practically the only time in life when you’re surrounded by nearly all of your friends. After graduation, everybody goes their own way, and it becomes much harder to get everyone together in the same place. So be sure to enjoy this precious time with friends while it lasts! 

2. Take photos 

It’s impossible to take too many photos during college. Once you’ve graduated and moved on to the next chapter of your life, you’ll want some mementos to remind you of your college years. And since everybody carries around a camera in their pocket these days, there’s no excuse! Consider putting together some digital photo albums or printing out some of your most cherished snapshots. 

3. Optimize your class schedule

Hopefully by this point, you have some flexibility in your schedule to take classes outside your major or general education requirements. Use this opportunity to enroll in low-stakes courses that are just plain fun. Interested in that pottery class or intro-to-guitar course? Go for it! 

Alternatively, you could use the free space in your schedule to learn subjects that could help you land a job. If you’re a communications major, for instance, consider diversifying your skill set by taking a business or economics course. A third option is to simply take a lighter course load your senior year and free up some room in your schedule.  

4. Check off bucket list items

Now’s the time to wrap up your college bucket list. Think back to your first year of school and try to remember the goals you set out for yourself. If there’s anything you haven’t gotten to yet, this is the year to do it! Down the line, you’ll want to be able to look back on your college experience and say you have no regrets. 

5. Don’t stress

This one’s easier said than done, but it’s so important. You’ll have a lot going on during your senior year, but remember to slow down and focus on the things that really matter. If you’re stressed about grades, test scores, or landing a job, think about whether these things will still be important a couple years down the line. Chances are they probably won’t. The things that matter most are your friends and the experiences you have with them. 

Final thoughts

Senior year is a unique time in which you’re caught between the present and the future. You should prepare for post-grad life, yes, but don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the ride while you’re still on it! It’s definitely a balancing act, but at the end of the day all you can do is try your best. 

Also see: How to get into graduate school with a low GPA