For most college seniors, the time to start freaking out about graduating is when spring rolls around. But for those who are graduating in December, the stress starts now. Before you start the rest of your life, make sure that you have made the most of your college experience by doing these seven things.
1. Apply for graduation
This may seem fairly obvious, but for students who are graduating during an out of the ordinary time, this step can get missed fairly easily. Although it varies by school, it is typical for schools to require that students apply to graduate during a specified time period. For example, if you are graduating after fall 2016, most schools have the application period open from June 2016 to mid-November, or even late October. So to make sure you actually are going to graduate when you think you are, go to your school's academic website and check out the requirements.
2. Go hard with the student discounts
In a few short months all those discounts that you have grown to love are going to be gone, so take advantage of them! Whether that is a local bar or an online shop, save money by purchasing all the things you need (or maybe just want) now. Sarah Kolin, a graduating senior at the University of Michigan, is a firm believer in taking advantage of student offers. "Ever since I finalized that I was going to be graduating early, it really hit me that in a few short months I can kiss my student discount at Top Shop goodbye," she says. And frankly, that is never an easy goodbye so you might as well stock up now.
3. Try out a new student club
After four years or maybe even three and a half, there are probably a lot of incredible things that you have gotten to be a part of on your campus. But most likely, there are still some activities you haven't tried. "For me, graduation is in a few months and there is still so much I feel like I haven't done," says Allie Teperberg, a senior at Cornell University. "My campus has a hip-hop club that I never even knew about until this month and now is my last chance to meet some new people while doing something I love." Just like for Allie, now is the best time to try something new and maybe even step out of your comfort zone a little bit. What do you have to lose?
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4. Touch base with old professors and advisors
As it gets closer to the moment where you walk across the stage, you might be feeling pretty grateful for the experiences that you have had. In fact, there are probably a lot of people you want to thank besides your parents. Beth Haymaker, an academic advisor at New York University, believes that networking and touching base with old professors is an important thing to do before you graduate and leave the campus community. "Throughout your college experience, you build really great relationships and meet some amazing people," she says. "But once you graduate, those people are not as easily accessible. If you have built relationships with professors in the field that one day you hope to go into, it is important to maintain that relationship." That starts with getting coffee and thanking them for everything they have done.
5. Meet up with your freshman year roommates
Although your senior year friends may be very different from your freshman year friends, it might be good to see them and talk about how much has changed. Reflecting on your past can help you grow in more ways than you could ever think. Becca Taylor, a senior at New York University, definitely understands this first hand. "When I was a freshman I had such different friends than I do now," she says. "But looking back, those relationships were still a big part of my life." For Becca, seeing them again was a nice reminder of how much can change.
6. Assess the relationships in your life
While you should be doing this at any stage in your life, when you graduate you really are ending one chapter of your life and starting a new one. For many, this also means starting fresh with friendships and relationships. Leaving college and entering the real world is not easy, but it's exceptionally hard if you are still holding on to relationships just because they remind you of the good old days. Melanie Brock, a senior at Vanderbilt University, knows that once she graduates, she wants to try to leave her college life really behind her. "I have made some incredible friends here but when I look at my future, some of them are not the people that I know will always be there for me," she says. Instead of wasting time on trying to hold those relationships together, she is going into the workforce ready to make new friendships.
7. Think about what’s next for you
This may seem obvious because you are graduating and moving on with your life, but for many, the next step is really freaking scary. Do you go to grad school? Do you take a year off and travel? Do you enter the workforce? This is something you need to think about now. For many graduate schools, the deadlines have already passed and if you haven’t yet taken the necessary exams to get in, you may be behind. "If you don't already know what you are doing after graduation, you should probably have a meeting with your advisor," says Haymaker. Figuring out your next move is crucial, because "once many students graduate and go home, it only gets harder for them to move back out" and live on their own. But after you have a plan and figure that out, the rest is easy.
So while graduation may seem like an eternity away, the next few months are guaranteed to fly by. Whether it's reflecting on all the relationships you've developed or maxing out your credit card with student discounts, it's important to do everything you can before you graduate. Entering the real world is scary, but with a little preparation it'll be a piece of cake.